SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea (search) said Saturday that it was "quite possible" to settle the international standoff over its nuclear weapons program if the United States allows for the existence of the communist regime.
The statement from Pyongyang (search)'s Foreign Ministry marked North Korea's first official comment on the prospects of six-nation nuclear talks since President Bush was re-elected to a second four-year term earlier this month.
"If the U.S. drops its hostile policy aimed at 'bringing down the system' in the (North) and opts for co-existing with the latter, in practice, it will be quite possible to settle the issue," a Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the North's official news agency, KCNA.
The spokesman made the comment while clarifying "some misinformation about the prospect of the resumption of the six-party talks afloat in the United States after the presidential election," KCNA said.
The two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States have held three rounds of six-nation talks on the nuclear dispute since last year, but no breakthrough has been reported.
A fourth round was slated for September but Pyongyang refused to attend amid speculation it was waiting to see who would win the U.S. presidential election.
Some analysts believed the North was holding out for a possible victory by Bush challenger John Kerry, who was more open to bilateral U.S.-North Korean talks.
On Saturday, the North Korean spokesman reaffirmed that the communist state would not insist on bilateral talks with the United States to resolve the nuclear dispute.
"On various occasions the DPRK clarified that it stands for settling the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the U.S. through dialogue and negotiations and it does not stick to the form of the talks aimed to solve it," he said.
DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the communist state's official name.
"As for the bilateral talks, the DPRK has neither expected nor waited for them as the U.S. has been opposed to that kind of talks. Accordingly, the DPRK does not feel any need to ask the U.S. for the bilateral talks as it is not ready to hold them," he added.
But the spokesman said that a "switchover" in the U.S. policy toward the isolated North is the key to finding a solution to the nuclear dispute through six-nation talks.