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(Yonhap Interview) Bosworth dissatisfied with 'management strategy' on N. Korea
By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (Yonhap) -- Stephen Bosworth, a former top U.S. envoy on North Korea, said Monday that he does not want to use the words "management strategy" regarding North Korea and pointed out that there is no "hard evidence" of Pyongyang's nuclear ties with Teheran.

   "I would not use those words myself," he said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency, the first with Korean media since he quit two and a half years of service as special representative for North Korea policy last month.

   As Washington restarted high-level talks with Pyongyang in New York in July, followed by a second round in Geneva in October, U.S. government officials told reporters frankly that they are pursuing a management strategy aimed at preventing the communist regime from carrying out additional provocations.

   The choice of the term has fueled public concerns that the Obama administration is seeking only to discourage Pyongyang from taking provocative steps ahead of next year's presidential elections rather than pursuing the more difficult goal of denuclearizing the regime.

   "I think it's important to have an effective, ongoing dialogue with North Korea. In order to do that, we have to be prepared to deal with serious issues," Bosworth said in a telephone interview from his office in Boston.

   The life-time diplomat, formerly U.S. ambassador to Seoul, now serves as dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He is known for prudence on foreign policy affairs and reticence in front of the media.

   Bosworth said there was progress in the Geneva talks but did not elaborate.

   "I would think, yes, there will be one more round" of direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang before the resumption of the six-party talks that have been stalled for years, he said.


Bosworth dismissed media speculation over nuclear cooperation between North Korea and Iran, which the IAEA recently said is clearly developing uranium-based weapons. The U.S. announced fresh sanctions against Iran's energy sector earlier Monday.

   "I haven't seen any hard evidence of such ties," he said. "But we know that there have been movements back and forth. It would be a mistake to speculate about those."

   He expressed hope that the North will not conduct a third nuclear test that observers say might be based on uranium.

   "We know they have been working on uranium enrichment. We don't really know how much they might have produced and of what quality," he said. "But there is no question that the existence of a uranium enrichment program complicates the negotiations."

   He avoided a direct answer to a question over whether the U.S. decision-making process on North Korea is too slow and cumbersome due to excessive consultations between the State Department, White House and Defense Department.

   "It is what it is. We have been trying for our part to make progress, to move ahead, to be serious, to try to gain confidence that North Korea will come to the table with serious intentions of moving forward," he said.

   He dismissed a view that time is running out for the U.S. to resolve the nuclear problem with North Korea, which aims to become a self-styled "strong and prosperous" nation in 2012.

   "I think we have to be patient, but we have to be prepared to move ahead," he said.

   He attributed the little tangible progress in talks with North Korea to its deadly attacks on South Korea last year in the wake of nuclear and missile tests.

   Bosworth said he understands Seoul's demand for an apology from Pyongyang for the attacks before moving forward in negotiations.

   "How I characterize it is not really material," he said. "All the countries concerned have to be satisfied that any talks will be serious and productive and that their interests are being met."

   He would not predict if or when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit North Korea if it adopts a path of change. She is scheduled to make a historic trip to Myanmar, also known as Burma, next week.

   "Anything is possible. I don't know. They are two quite different cases," he said.

   When asked if he would write his own memoir on North Korea, he said, "I'm not sure the world needs another book about North Korea."