North Korea sets conditions for peace talks
Pyongyang seeks U.S. recognition, food aid
April 24, 1997
Web posted at: 9:50 a.m. EDT (1350 GMT)
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PYONGYANG, North Korea (CNN) -- North Korea wants U.S. diplomatic recognition, large-scale food aid and an easing of trade sanctions before joining four-way peace talks.
South Korea rejected the offer as a tactic to obtain concessions from Seoul and Washington.
Both the United States and South Korea insist the talks should focus on peace, not diplomatic ties or food.
Four-way peace talks between the two Koreas, the United States and China were proposed a year ago by President Clinton and South Korean President Kim Young-sam.
The aim is to replace a now-ragged truce that halted the 1950-53 Korean War with a permanent peace arrangement.
North Korea opposes China's participation
North Korea's conditions were hinted at by Kim Gye Gwan, North Korea's top negotiator on the peace talks issue, in comments carried on Thursday by his country's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Another North Korean official was more direct, saying that until the conditions were met, North Korea would oppose participation by China in the talks.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted Han Sung Yol, a consul at the North Korean U.N. mission, as saying his country is in "an unfair situation" because while South Korea has full diplomatic relations with China, North Korea has no formal ties with the United States.
"For the four-nation talks, North Korea's legal and political status must be resolved and a good atmosphere should also be created," Yonhap quoted Han as saying on Wednesday.
Food for peace?
Kim Gye Gwan urged the United States to adopt more confidence-building measures, in an apparent reference to famine-stricken North Korea's demands for substantial food aid and an end to sweeping U.S. economic sanctions.
He, too, suggested North Korea's lack of diplomatic relations with Washington was a stumbling block.
"Confidence needed for 'four-way talks' has not yet been built between the DPRK (North Korea) and the U.S. and, still worse, our equal footing at the talks has not been guaranteed," said Kim.
The comments from the North Korean officials follow talks in New York that failed to secure a clear answer from the North on whether it was ready to enter peace talks.
Although no date has been set for a next meeting, Han said the North was willing to resume contact at any level.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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