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Obama writes to N Korea's Kim.

12/16/2009 5:25:56 AM

Barack Obama has written a personal letter to Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, the US state department has said.

The US president's letter, which was hand carried to Pyongyang last week by a US envoy, is part of an effort by the US administration to draw North Korea back to six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

US officials have refused to reveal the details of the letter, but it reportedly outlined the benefits of returning to talks, while explaining the risks of continued isolation.

The letter was delivered to North Korean officials last week by Obama's special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, during a visit to Pyongyang.

Bosworth held talks with several senior North Korean officials but did not meet Kim himself.

Speaking to the Associated Press, an unnamed state department official said the contents of the letter followed the general message that Bosworth had taken to Pyongyang.

"The North Koreans have a choice: continued and further isolation or benefits for returning to the six-party talks and dismantling their nuclear weapons program," the official said.

Bosworth's talks were the Obama administration's first high-level contact with North Korea.

Speaking after the visit he said the two sides had reached a "common understanding" on the need to restart the nuclear negotiations.

The six party talks, aimed at denuclearising the Korean peninsular, involve the two Koreas, China, Japan, the US and Russia.

Former US presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton both also sent personal letters to Kim, raising the benefits of disarmament.

Bush wrote to Kim in December 2007, offering normalised relations if the North

Korean leader fully disclosed his nuclear programs by year's end.

The letter was seen as a turnabout for a president who had labelled the secretive regime part of an "axis of evil", along with Iran and pre-war Iraq.

According to the Washington Post, efforts early in Bush's term to send a letter were stymied by an intense debate over whether to use an honorific such as "his excellency" to address Kim.

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Publication:Aljazeera.net
Geographic Code:9NORT
Date:Dec 16, 2009
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