Powell seeks Asian support in dispute over N. Korea's nuclear ambitions
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Seoul on Monday, beginning the final leg of a three-nation swing meant to shore up support in the dispute over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
During the trip, which began in Japan and continued in China, Powell has reinforced the Bush administration’s position that negotiations with North Korea should be done only through the six-party talks, which also include Russia.
Powell also warned North Korea against assuming changes in the U.S. policy would come after the U.S. election.
The six-party talks have stalled this year, mostly amid speculation the North is waiting for the outcome of the presidential race.
“There is a sense of urgency,” Powell said in Tokyo, referring to a desire to resume six-party talks.
North Korea has said its willingness to negotiate is dependent on the United States changing its “hostile policy” toward the Pyongyang regime.
“The U.S. should abandon its confrontational hostile policy towards the DPRK and adopt a policy helpful for the peaceful reunification based on the co-existence of the North and the South,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Monday.
While in Seoul on Tuesday, Powell is to hold a news conference with South Korean Foreign Ministry officials and meet with South Korean students at the U.S. Embassy, U.S. officials said Monday.
The meeting with students is an effort to engage younger South Koreans, who typically are more suspicious of U.S. efforts than are older generations who remember the Korean War and its aftermath.
In the past, U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Leon LaPorte also has sought to engage younger South Koreans, participating earlier this year in an Internet panel discussion broadcast via the Web.
On Sunday, Powell talked with Japanese officials about the transfer of U.S. military bases, a perennially touchy subject. U.S. officials are continuing dialogue on the possible movement of troops in Japan.
According to news reports, Powell said the United States is not seeking to broaden the scope of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
He told reporters that the future of the Army I Corps has yet to be determined; speculation in recent months has had that command moving to Japan from the States.
Any decision on I Corps should be decided through the Defense Policy Review Initiative, a framework for bilateral military talks between Japan and the United States, Powell said.