Seoul, Jul 25 (Kyodo) North Korea has called for launching talks among the two Koreas, the United States and China, excluding Japan and Russia from the current framework of six-party talks on the North's denuclearisation, a Seoul daily reported today.
The North broached the topic in talks between the chief nuclear negotiators of both Koreas on the sidelines of a regional security forum held in Bali, Indonesia, on Friday, the Chosun Ilbo reported.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho also brought up the proposal when he met Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin on Saturday.
A diplomat told the daily that the North agreed to talks with the South "in response to a strong message from the US that there would be no Pyongyang-Washington talks unless the North improves inter-Korean relations.
It seems the North is considering the new initiative in the belief that there''s not enough room for it to maneuver if it stays within the current framework as suggested by South Korea."
North Korea seems to have concluded that a four-party format would make it easier to replace the armistice with a peace treaty and keep last year''s attacks on a South Korean warship and the shelling of a border island off the table.
It believes Japan would most likely side with South Korea while Russia is unlikely to support its nominal ally to the extent that China does.
South Korea is not keen on the idea, saying there is no good reason to shake up a framework that has existed for nearly eight years. (Kyodo)