The United States and North Korea will reopen high-level talks over the communist regime's nuclear program July 8 in Geneva, the White House announced Monday.
Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers said there was no scheduled end date to the discussions. "The talks will continue as long as they're productive," she told reporters.Another U.S. official said, however, the first round was expected to run a week or less.
Assistant Secretary of State Robert L. Gallucci will head the U.S. delegation and First Vice Foreign Minister Kung Suk-joo the North Korean group. The agenda for the "broad and thorough" talks will include North Korea's missile sales to Syria and Iran and "the status of our diplomatic relations," the State Department said last week.
A South Korean newspaper reported that the United States will offer to exchange diplomatic liaison offices with North Korea if the communist state agrees to open its secretive nuclear program.
The offices would be the first step in a two-stage program that would eventually include formal diplomatic recognition of the North, the Dong-A Ilbo said.
Myers said the report was premature. "We can't say that. That's something that has not been worked out," she said. The United States has said it would improve diplomatic relations if North Korea cooperated over concerns for its nuclear program.
Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole said Sunday the United States should keep up pressure on North Korea in case the regime reneges on a promise to freeze its nuclear program.
"You look back over history and their word has not been good," Dole, R-Kan., told C-SPAN.
Dole said he is afraid North Korea could use the talks to stall for time and eventually renew its nuclear program.
"My biggest fear is we might be taken for a ride and they might be buying more time and when it's all over we might not gain anything," Dole said.
Appearing on the same show, Gallucci said President Clinton has not taken North Korea's promises at face value.
"We do not deal with North Korea yet on a basis of trust," Gallucci said. "We deal on a basis of what they do and what they say that can be verified."
The administration has offered North Korea better relations in exchange for giving up its nuclear program. It has accused North Korea of using its nuclear program to produce weapons, a charge Pyongyang has denied.
A growing international crisis over the nuclear program eased after North Korea promised former President Jimmy Carter it would halt the program in return for a resumption of high-level talks with the United States.
Dole, whose interview was taped Friday, urged Clinton to continue consulting with South Korea, Japan, Russia and China "to put pressure on North Korea."
Clinton said last week the United States would suspend its campaign at the United Nations to punish Pyongyang with economic sanctions and would resume high-level talks with North Korea next month in Geneva, Switzerland. The administration hopes to use the talks to develop a permanent solution to the nuclear problem.
"The fact that former President Carter comes back and says, `Well, Kim Il Sung is a good person and all these things,' in my view does not mean that we don't prepare ourselves," Dole said.
Gallucci, interviewed after Dole's remarks were broadcast, said Clinton has not blindly accepted Kim's promises.
"We have not . . . asserted that there is a fundamental difference in North Korea. We are not saying that," Gallucci said. "What we are saying is we will see if we can negotiate a settlement."
As for trusting the North Koreans, Gallucci said he agreed with Dole.