July 9, 2006

North Korea can be more isolated after missiles: US

By Jon Herskovitz

SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States is keen to pursue
diplomacy with North Korea after its missile tests but would
have no qualms in seeing Pyongyang further isolated, a top U.S.
diplomat said on Sunday.

"The North Koreans are isolating themselves. This missile
launch, if it was calculated at all, it was calculated badly,"
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific
Affairs Chistopher Hill told a small group of reporters.

"If they want to negotiate, we are prepared to do so within
the six-party process," he said referring to stalled talks
among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United
States on ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs.

"If North Korea wants to isolate itself, we will do our
best to oblige them," he added.

Hill is traveling in the region to meet the six-party
players apart from Pyongyang to come up with a unified voice in
response to North Korea firing seven missiles last Wednesday.

"This is North Korea's idea of how to intimidate its
neighbors. The real question is are its neighbors really going
to let them get away with this," Hill said.

He said apart from talks, some actions that could be taken
included ensuring that export controls with North were in place
and preventing leakage of technologies to the country.

After Pyongyang defied world opinion and test-fired
missiles, Japan formally introduced a U.N. resolution,
co-sponsored by the United States, Britain and France, to
impose sanctions against its missile program.

Hill said the launch, which included missiles that could
hit all of South Korea and almost all of Japan, showed just how
much of a problem this was for all of the six-party players.

China has proposed convening an informal six-way meeting in
Shenyang, a northeastern city near the North Korean border, to
seek a way out of the impasse.

A U.S. official said some of the six-party members were
considering holding the talks, even without Pyongyang.

"We need a six-party process regardless of whether we get
all six parties to come to it," Hill said.

"If they are not interested, we will do our best to defend
ourselves and secondly to keep them very isolated," he added.