Stephen Bosworth Hyun In-taek 248 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
The United States said Friday it was prepared to accept North Korea's offer for direct talks in an effort to persuade the North to return to stalled international nuclear disarmament negotiations.
US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters that no decision has been made on when or where such a meeting would happen. He also insisted that there has been no shift from previous US statements that Washington would only meet with North Korea as part of the six-nation nuclear negotiating process. The North pulled out of the talks in April, protesting international criticism of a rocket launch.
"If a bilateral discussion will lead us back to a six-party process, then why would we not do that?" Crowley asked.
Crowley said consultations among President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other world leaders about a possible US-North Korea meeting could happen at United Nations meetings later this month.
Earlier this week, the US special envoy on North Korea met in Asia with officials from Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo to discuss the talks among the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia. North Korea, which conducted its second nuclear test in May, has said it will only talk one-on-one with Washington.
Stephen Bosworth said in Japan that Washington is open to bilateral meetings with Pyongyang but not as a substitute for multilateral disarmament talks.
The last six-nation talks took place in Beijing in December 2008.
The United States has shown no signs of easing pressure on North Korea, despite the North's release of two American journalists and five South Koreans detained in the country and other conciliatory gestures.