Skip to comments.Richardson: N. Korean Pledges No Nuke Weapons
Posted on 01/11/2003 11:07:57 AM PST by GeneD
SANTA FE, N.M. (Reuters) - U.S. diplomatic trouble-shooter Bill Richardson ended three-days of talks with a senior North Korean official on Saturday with a pledge the reclusive communist state will not develop nuclear weapons.
Richardson, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and now the Democratic governor of New Mexico, said he now had hopes rising tensions could be solved peacefully through diplomacy.
"The North Koreans told me that they don't plan to build nuclear weapons and I took that as a positive statement," Richardson told reporters after concluding almost nine hours of talks since Thursday with Han Song Ryol, a high-ranking member of the North Korean delegation to the United Nations.
Richardson, a skilled diplomatic trouble-shooter under former President Bill Clinton, said he was acting as a conduit between the Republican administration of President Bush and Pyongyang.
He said the onus was now on Pyongyang and Washington to reduce tensions raised when North Korea announced on Friday it was withdrawing from the global treaty to stem the spread of atomic weapons and on Saturday when it threatened to end a moratorium on missile testing.
"Ambassador Han has expressed to me North Korea's willingness to have better relations with the United States. He told me the government of North Korea wants to resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue," Richardson said.
Richardson, who has negotiated with North Korean officials before said he was encouraged by those statements. He said the talks held at the governor's mansion covered a wide array of bilateral issues and described the discussions as positive, constructive and frank.
"I think they've eased tensions a bit," he said.
Richardson said that while he is not an envoy of the Bush administration, he has been in constant contact with Secretary of State Colin Powell and has delivered harsh words from Washington to the North Korean diplomat.
Richardson said he expressed his concern over Pyongyang's withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the missile test warning.
"I think the governor is a tough negotiator," Han told a press conference in a short statement where he also thanked Richardson and the people of New Mexico for hosting the talks.
Washington, meanwhile has downplayed the prospect of any new ground being covered in the discussions. The talks in Santa Fe were scheduled for two days, but were extended to a third.
North Korea, one of the world's most secretive and isolated states, has had the world on tenterhooks since earlier this month when it shut down monitoring equipment, expelled two U.N. weapons inspectors and threatened to reactivate a nuclear plant capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium.
Tensions have been rising since Pyongyang admitted last October that it had pursued a nuclear arms program in violation of a 1994 agreement.
Richardson, who was also secretary of energy in the Clinton administration, was active in U.S.-North Korean relations in the 1990s.
In 1996, as a member of the House of Representatives, he successfully negotiated the release of a U.S. citizen detained by Pyongyang on espionage charges, and in 1994 worked to free a U.S. helicopter pilot who crossed the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea.
Washington has offered to talk with North Korea about its nuclear ambitions but has refused to negotiate or offer incentives. North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations on Friday condemned that position as insincere.
Richardson, who became New Mexico's governor less than two weeks ago, said his main role during these talks was to listen to what Han to say and report back to U.S. officials.
Richardson and Han have sat down together at the bargaining table before and their nuclear talks have also been spiced with working dinners where Richardson has taken the North Korean envoy to meals featuring New Mexico's famous green chili.
Maybe that, or Richardson was paid for some errand that he has not yet delivered on.
See, all we had to do was sit down with them, peacefully resolve our difference, and realize that, hey, things aren't so bad after all.
It's just amazing what a little heart to heart can get you. Violence is never the answer, especially when every is willing to be reasonable and talk things through.
Boy, that was easy.
A pledge? OK ,we can now relax. Nothing to see here, move along.
This story reeks of WTF is he doing? And just what kind of CYA operation is this?
And anyone who can't figure that out in 10 seconds or less, well, I've got some beautiful ocean front property in Nebraska to sell you.
What do you mean? In spite of all of our bellicose rhetoric, the North Koreans have, out of the goodness of their hearts, made a promise that will promote peace and security.
If only America cared about the future as much as they did, there wouldn't be so much suffering in the world. Think about it. Think of the children.
I don't see why you are all so cynical? Clinton had a great plan to help the 'Hermit Kingdom' come out of its shell, by helping their economy and really trying to bridge our differences. You can't build rapport and friendship without talking to people and sharing your wealth with them if they are poor and needy.
Dialogue and compromise never hurt anyone, why shouldn't we just give peace a chance?
And now the corrupt moron talks to the North Koreans about nukes and we're supposed to bend over having been provided with another worthless "assurance" concerning the development of nuclear weapons.
How touching. The liberal pigs are simply amazing.
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