North Korea Calls for Talks With the U.S.

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 16 2013 10:39 AM

North Korea Calls for High-Level Talks With the U.S. (but Doesn’t Offer Concessions)

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This undated picture, released from North Korea's official Korean central News Agency (KCNA) on June 3, 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a pig farm

Photo by KNS/AFP/Getty Images

It seems Dennis Rodman was right after all. The former NBA star had said North Korean dictator Kim Jong Eun wanted President Obama to call him, and now Pyongyang has proposed high-level nuclear and security talks with the United States. Mere days after North Korea dramatically cancelled planned talks with South Korea, the country’s top governing body said Sunday it wanted to hold talks with Washington. But Pyongyang said Washington should accept the talks without preconditions and gave no indication it was ready to make concessions on its nuclear program, reports the Wall Street Journal.

North Korea’s proposal seems to indicate it is trying to move away from the acrimony that has marked the country's relations with much of the world following the launch of a long-range rocket in December and a nuclear test in February. In what the Associated Press calls “a notable shift in propaganda in Pyongyang,” anti-U.S. posters and billboards have been taken down in recent weeks. But seeing as though Pyongyang seems fond of “alternating between provocations and engagement,” Washington is usually skeptical of these types of proposals, points out the New York Times.

“The North Koreans know darn well this offer is unacceptable,” a North Korea expert tells the Washington Post. “It’s so self-serving. When the Americans reject it, they’ll be able to say, ‘Look how hostile the world is, they won’t even recognize us as a sovereign state. So of course we have to have our nuclear deterrent.’”

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Although Washington had no immediate reaction to the proposal, it came shortly after a key U.S. official said that recent provocative actions by North Korea had raised the bar to any resumption of dialogue, reports the AFP. "The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state. We will not reward the DPRK for the absence of bad behavior," Glyn Davies, the State Department’s senior envoy for North Korea, said on Friday, adding that Washington “will not engage in talks merely for the sake of talks.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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