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North Korea calls for direct talks with U.S.

North Korean delegate Ri Gun, left, talks with U.S. chief nuclear envoy Christopher Hill, right, on 17 August 2007.
North Korean delegate Ri Gun, left, talks with U.S. chief nuclear envoy Christopher Hill, right, on 17 August 2007.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • N. Korea says it and U.S. need to settle differences before meaningful nuclear talks proceed
  • North Korea says it will "go our own way" If Washington is not ready for a dialogue
  • N. Korea left talks in April to protest U.N. condemnation of its nuclear test, missile launches
  • Diplomats from the United States and North Korea have huddled in recent weeks
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(CNN) -- North Korea pressed for direct talks with the United States on Monday, saying the two need to settle their differences before meaningful multilateral nuclear discussions could proceed, state media reported.

If Washington is not ready for a dialogue, North Korea will "go our own way," North Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement to the official KCNA news agency. It did not elaborate on the comment.

"The past six year-long course of the six-party talks proved that no matter how frequently the six parties meet, it is nothing but an armchair argument unless the hostile relations between the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and the U.S. are settled and confidence is built between them," the foreign ministry said.

North Korea pulled out of talks in April to protest the United Nations' condemnation over its nuclear test and missile launches. The communist nation has accused Washington of violating its sovereignty by singling it out and reporting it to the United Nations Security Council.

Diplomats from the United States and North Korea have huddled in recent weeks.

North Korea Ambassador Ri Gun and Sung Kim, the director of the U.S. State Department's Office of Korean Affairs, met late last month. Ri was invited to New York by U.S. private organizations, the State Department said.

Ri took part in a seminar hosted by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and the Korea Society.

"During his visit, Ambassador Sung Kim took the opportunity to meet with him in New York on October 24 to convey our position on denuclearization and the six-party talks," said Noel Clay, a State Department spokesman.

North Korea's call for direct talks comes amid signs that it might rejoin nuclear talks.

Following a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to North Korea last month, Pyongyang indicated a willingness to participate in bilateral talks with the United States and to return to six-party talks over its nuclear program.

The communist country expressed similar openness to talks last month after leader Kim Jong-il met with Chinese special envoy Dai Bingguo.

The six-party negotiations include the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.