Barack Obama's election heralds a new era for the two Koreas, a pro-North Korean newspaper Choson Sinbo said as analysts began gauging the new U.S. administration. North Korean diplomat Ri Gun said Pyongyang is prepared for whatever policy changes the Obama administration makes. “We will have dialogue if (the U.S.) seeks dialogue. If it seeks isolation, we will stand against it,” he said Thursday in New York in comments shown in Seoul on YTN television.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he was confident Obama will push forward with a policy of negotiating with “belligerent, exiled” North Korea to abide by its promise to disarm the peninsula of nuclear weapons. During his campaign, Obama sought to distance himself from hard-line tactics and emphasized his willingness to hold direct talks with the North including possibly meeting with authoritarian leader Kim Jong Il.
Analyst Hong Hyun-ik of the Sejong Institute called it an “openhearted policy” that has faith Pyongyang could be convinced to give up its nuclear ambitions if its concerns are addressed. Under Obama, “relations between the United States and North Korea could improve at a much faster pace than we expected,” he said.
The deputy of Washington envoy Christopher Hill and North Korean diplomat Ri Gun discussed a way to verify North Korea's nuclear declaration, energy assistance and disablement of the North's nuclear facilities, State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters Friday.
He said Hill's deputy, Sung Kim, and Ri also met for talks that Wood described as substantive, serious and focused on “how to move the six-party process forward.” Wood provided no other details of the talks.