SEOUL, South Korea – The United States and North Korea are being flexible in their effort to reach a compromise to resolve the dispute in the North's nuclear disarmament process, South Korea's foreign minister said Tuesday.
The North stopped disabling its main nuclear facilities in mid-August, rejecting a U.S. insistence that the regime should undergo a thorough inspection of its declaration of nuclear programs. Washington's top nuclear envoy visited Pyongyang last week to resolve the impasse, but it was unclear whether it produced any breakthrough.
But on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told a South Korean parliamentary committee that Washington and Pyongyang were trying to strike a compromise by exerting "flexibility" and "considerably reflecting each other's position."
However, Yu said he believes the U.S. would not make any substantial change in its demand for a rigorous nuclear verification. He did not elaborate.
Yu also said the U.S., South Korea and other countries involved in the disarmament talks were expected to announce their positions on the latest dispute in a few days, after reviewing details of U.S. envoy Christopher Hill's trip to the North.
North Korea began disabling its main nuclear complex north of Pyongyang last November as part of an aid-for-disarmament pact with the U.S., South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. The North, however, stopped the disablement work and began reassembling the facilities in protest at Washington's refusal to remove it from a blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism.
The U.S. pledged to remove the North from the blacklist after the regime submitted a long-delayed account of its nuclear programs in June. The U.S. later insisted the North would only be taken off the list after it agreed to an international inspection of its nuclear declaration.