Berlin wants N. Korean talks;Rice sees Iran bigger threat

11th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 February 2005, BANDA ACEH - German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer urged North Korea on Friday to resume six-party talks aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the nuclear proliferation issue. "In North Korea of course we don't see a serious alternative to six-party talks. We appeal to North Korea to go back to the negotiating table," Fischer told reporters after visiting German aid workers at a camp for non-governmental organizations in Indonesia's tsunami-devastated province of Aceh. "We're in suppo

11 February 2005

BANDA ACEH - German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer urged North Korea on Friday to resume six-party talks aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the nuclear proliferation issue.

"In North Korea of course we don't see a serious alternative to six-party talks. We appeal to North Korea to go back to the negotiating table," Fischer told reporters after visiting German aid workers at a camp for non-governmental organizations in Indonesia's tsunami-devastated province of Aceh.

"We're in support of the six-party talks, because all issues, especially the nuclear issue, must be settled in a peaceful way," he said.

Fischer's statement was made in connection with Pyongyang's surprise announcement on Thursday acknowledging that it had nuclear weapons.

In addition, North Korea declared it will suspend its participation in future rounds of the six-nation talks mechanism hosted by China.

Fischer said a peaceful solution was in the "interests of all sides," adding that Germany backs such a solution.

But in an interview published on Friday in Paris, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States believes that the threat posed by Iran's nuclear programme outstrips bellicose statements by North Korea that it possessed nuclear weapons.

"We believe the North Korean problem still can be solved through diplomatic means," Rice told the French newspaper Le Figaro. "Iran poses a direct threat to the peace process in the Middle East through its support of terrorist groups."

Persuading Iran to abide by terms agreed to internationally for its nuclear programme poses "a difficult and urgent problem", said Rice.

Iran has been locked in negotiations with three European powers and the International Atomic Energy Agency with the aim of ensuring the Teheran government's nuclear programme only serves peaceful purposes.

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, speaking at Friday prayers in Teheran, threatened to resume uranium enrichment if talks failed with the European Union "big three" of France, Germany and Britain. The highly influential cleric said the enrichment would be for peaceful purposes only.

Rice, on her first visit to Europe and the Middle East since taking office as Washington's top diplomat, repeatedly issued warnings to Iran that the US was dissatisfied at the pace of progress on the nuclear issue. She added US military action against Iran was not an option "at this time".

On Thursday, North Korea announced it was withdrawing from six- nation talks on its nuclear programme because of US belligerence toward the Communist state. Through state-run KCNA news agency, the Pyongyang government also said it was in possession of nuclear weapons.

In Luxembourg on Thursday, Rice responded by warning North Korea to reconsider, saying the Pyongyang regime was risking "deeper isolation" by walking away from talks with the US, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.

"These things take time", Rice told Le Figaro, adding the US possesses "adequate means" to counter any threat posed by North Korea. 


DPA

Subject: German news

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