Two members of the British House of Lords say Pyongyang is willing to continue talks on the nuclear standoff with the United States, but wants re-assurances from Washington first. The UK peers arrived in Beijing on Saturday, after a six-day trip to the DPRK.
Baroness Caroline Cox and David Alton were on a mission aimed at building inter-parliamentary relations between the two nations.
The delegates addressed the nuclear crisis in a meeting with the DPRK officials and reported that Pyongyang was most concerned about a preemptive attack and getting assurances of peaceful coexistence on the Korean Peninsula.
"In a word, the United States should give up their hostile policies towards the DPRK, and then we will give up our nuclear deterrence programs. All of this should be based on simultaneous action. Then we will establish diplomatic relations," said Chae Soo Hun, DPRK deputy foreign minister.
Although Washington has repeatedly said it has no intention of attacking the DPRK, it has also made clear it won't reward bad behavior with a guarantee not to attack.
In August, China hosted six-way talks on the nuclear crisis that erupted last October. Reports have since emerged that a second round of discussions may be held in November.
Pyongyang has given no indication of when it will be willing to meet again. But Cox and Alton voiced optimism about the possibility of re-engaging Pyongyang in talks.
They say the officials they met admitted the 11-month-old nuclear crisis was a burden on efforts to revive their moribund economy.
(CCTV.com September 21, 2003)