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Russia, China Try to Appease N. Korea

Pyongyang rejects the neighbors' possible offer of security guarantees if the U.S. disappoints.

August 14, 2003|From Associated Press

MOSCOW — Russia and China may offer North Korea security guarantees to back up any U.S. commitments as part of an international effort to ease tensions over the North's nuclear program, a senior Russian official said Wednesday.

But ahead of planned six-way talks including Pyongyang and Washington later this month, North Korea laid down a tough stance, saying it would not give up its "nuclear deterrent" without a nonaggression treaty with the United States.

Washington has said it would consider providing written security guarantees to the North but ruled out a treaty requiring congressional approval.

Russia's proposal Wednesday aimed to defuse the standoff by broadening security guarantees to Pyongyang. It came as Russian diplomats met separately with envoys from North and South Korea.

Moscow and Beijing "might offer additional guarantees, if guarantees established by the United States fail to meet North Korea's expectations to the full," the Itar-Tass news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov as saying.

"North Korea's wish to have security guarantees looks absolutely logical, and there is every indication it will be insisting on them," Losyukov told the agency. "Russia and China have an identical vision of the situation."

The North was cold to the idea.

"Only the U.S. is threatening" North Korea, said a Foreign Ministry spokesman cited by KCNA, the North's official news agency. "The conception of guarantee of collective security is meaningless."

The envoys from North and South Korea met with Russian officials in talks aimed at laying the groundwork for the upcoming negotiations, which will group China, the United States, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas.

Chinese officials confirmed that talks would begin Aug. 27 in Beijing.

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