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U.S. says will never have normal ties with nuclear North Korea

</head> <body> <p>By Arshad Mohammed</p> <p>WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rebuffed North Korean hopes it may be accepted as a nuclear state, saying the United States will never have normal, sanctions-free ties with a nuclear-armed North Korea.</p> <p>Clinton laid down a hard line as the United States weighs whether to engage in bilateral talks with North Korea, a step it hopes will bring Pyongyang back to wider, six-party talks on ending its nuclear programs.</p> <p>The North, which conducted its second nuclear test in May, has said it wished to be treated as a nuclear state.</p> <p>While repeating the U.S. openness to bilateral talks with North Korea, Clinton said the United States would not soften its sanctions on Pyongyang.</p> <p>"Current sanctions will not be relaxed until Pyongyang takes verifiable, irreversible steps toward complete denuclearization," Clinton said in a speech hosted by the United States Institute for Peace think tank.</p> <p>"Its leaders should be under no illusion that the United States will ever have normal, sanctions-free relations with a nuclear-armed North Korea," she added. "We are prepared to meet bilaterally with North Korea. But North Korea's return to the negotiating table is not enough."</p> <p>The United States hopes a bilateral dialogue may bring North Korea back to six-party talks involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States on ending the North's nuclear programs.</p> <p>Those discussions have been stalled since North Korea quit them six months ago.</p> <p>The North recently telegraphed it wanted better relations with Washington, freeing two jailed U.S. journalists in August and signaling two weeks ago that it could return to the six-way talks but wanted to talk to the United States first.</p> <p>It is unclear what may have triggered the recent warming.</p> <p>After Pyongyang conducted its second nuclear test, the U.N. Security Council imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea that are designed to restrict its arms sales, which provide a vital source of hard currency for the impoverished country.</p> <p>The United States, which has said it has not decided on bilateral talks, wants some assurance North Korea will actually return to six-party talks and recommit to abandoning its nuclear programs before engaging directly.</p> <p>The State Department last week said it had decided to grant a visa to Ri Gun, North Korea's No. 2 official at six-party talks, to attend meetings in New York and San Diego.</p> <p>U.S. analysts said that by allowing Ri to visit, the Obama administration might be signaling a desire to explore whether direct talks between the United States and North Korea might lead to a resumption of wider denuclearization talks.</p> <p>The United States wants North Korea to give up its nuclear programs, which it sees as a direct threat to U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, while North Korea has recently made clear that it wants to be accepted as a nuclear state.</p> <p>(Editing by Doina Chiacu)</p> </body> </html> </div><!-- end article-body --> </div><!-- end aticle-body-wrapper --> <aside> <ul class="social-share-btns clearfix"> <li><g:plusone size="medium" href="http://whtc.com/news/articles/2009/oct/21/us-says-will-never-have-normal-ties-with-nuclear-n/"></g:plusone></li> <li><div id="fb-root"></div><script src="http://connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#appId=112315878855956&xfbml=1"></script><fb:like href="http://whtc.com/news/articles/2009/oct/21/us-says-will-never-have-normal-ties-with-nuclear-n/" action="recommend" send="true" layout="button_count" width="150" show_faces="false" font=""></fb:like></li> <li><a href="http://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-url="http://whtc.com/news/articles/2009/oct/21/us-says-will-never-have-normal-ties-with-nuclear-n/" data-text="U.S. says will never have normal ties with nuclear North Korea" 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