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Russian envoy says North Korea intends to return to the six party talk

Speaking in Beijing, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev told the RIA-Novosti news agency that North Korea leadership was still interested in returning to the negotiating table. “They said that only after analyzing the UN resolution would they plan the subsequent character of their actions … including in relation to the resumption of the six-sided process,” said Alexeyev Sunday.The Russian minister was to fly on to Seoul for further consultations, after the UN Security Council unanimously voted on Saturday to impose punitive sanctions on North Korea for its declared nuclear test while avoiding the threat of military force. Saturday’s resolution called on North Korea to return immediately to the six-party talks on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula without precondition.Talks started in 2003, but stalled in November 2005 after the North refused to cave in to US demands. Apart from the United States, the talks also involve Russia, South Korea, China, and Japan. “The North Korean side several times returned to the point that the six-sided process should continue, that it is not rejecting six-sided negotiations,” Alexeyev said, although he did not have high hopes that would happen.Alexeyev met his North Korean counterpart Kim Ky-kwan and other officials earlier in Pyongyang. North Korea is said to have close ties with Russia. The North Koreans insisted on the unthreatening nature of their weapons program, Alexeyev said. Pyongyang “is ready to discuss in a constructive manner” steps to create a Korean peninsula free from nuclear weapons, he said.Russia has an 18-kilometre (11-mile) border with North Korea in the far eastern coastal province of Primorsky, where a demonstration by students took place in the city of Vladivostok last week against the North Korean test.On Saturday, Russia’s influential Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov called the test a “disgrace” and said that while no ecological damage had been caused to Russia or China, that provided no reassurances about any future tests. Besides Alexeyev’s comments, reaction in Moscow to the sanctions was low key—in contrast with the praise that came from other countries around the world.The deputy head of the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, called the resolution “objective and timely… with the accents in the right places”. “North Korea’s activities in the area of nuclear weapons testing are dangerous for the whole region and for global security,” he said.The North’s tests “only whip up the self-importance of the United States, which as global gendarme has placed North Korea in an axis of evil,” Slutsky was quoted by RIA-Novosti as saying. Saturday’s Security Council meeting saw a resurfacing of US-Russian tensions, as Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin complained about comments by his US counterpart John Bolton.Bolton had likened a decision by North Korea’s envoy to walk out of the session to an incident in 1960 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on a UN desk. Churkin asked the acting Japanese president of the Security Council to use his influence to ensure that Bolton “even in an emotional state not use inappropriate analogies”.

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