Thursday, December 14, 2006
N.M. governor to host nuke talks with North KoreansSANTA FE, New Mexico (AP) -- Gov. Bill Richardson is to meet Friday with two top North Korean officials in New Mexico.
The governor's office said Wednesday that the North Koreans asked for the meeting to discuss upcoming multilateral talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
The six-party talks, scheduled to resume Monday in Beijing, will include North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States.
Richardson said that while he will not act as an official representative of the Bush administration, he will do whatever he can to move the talks forward.
"I believe we have an opportunity to use diplomacy to end this crisis and bring stability to the Korean Peninsula," he said. "I will press the North Koreans to start dismantling their nuclear weapons."
North Korea agreed in late October to reconvene the negotiations three weeks after conducting an atomic bomb test. The breakthrough came after pressure from China and a U.S. offer to discuss financial penalties already in place.
U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill said Wednesday his aim in resuming negotiations with North Korea is an agreement to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
The U.S. State Department granted permission for the two diplomats from the North Korean Mission to the United Nations to come to Santa Fe, the governor's office said.
The governor, a former congressman, energy secretary and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has dealt extensively with North Korea. He has traveled to North Korea five times, most recently in October 2005.
Friday's visit will mark the second time a North Korean delegation has traveled to Santa Fe to meet with Richardson. The first took place shortly after he took office in January 2003.