U.S. proposes multilateral talks on North Korea on sidelines of U.N. General Assembly

Monday, September 11th 2006, 10:22 am
By: News On 6

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ The United States has proposed a meeting of North Korea's neighbors and other regional powers on the sidelines of the upcoming meeting of U.N. General Assembly, South Korea's top nuclear envoy said Monday.

Such a meeting could put more pressure on North Korea as the communist state refuses to rejoin the six-party talks aimed at ending its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The move comes amid concerns the North may be preparing to test a nuclear bomb to further heighten tensions created by its test-firing of a series of missiles in July.

Chun Yung-woo, the chief South Korea nuclear negotiator, said the U.S.-proposed session would be like one that 10 countries held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the sidelines of an annual security forum in July to discuss North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.

The 10 countries consisted of all parties to the six-nation nuclear talks except North Korea _ China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the U.S. _ plus Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada and New Zealand.

``For now, the U.S. is thinking of holding a meeting similar to the one held in Kuala Lumpur,'' Chun said after talks with his U.S. counterpart, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. ``But not all of the related countries have responded.''

North Korea has refused to attend the six-party talks since last year in anger at U.S. efforts to choke off the North's access to international banking over its alleged currency counterfeiting and other wrongdoing.