North Korea said Friday that it understands the need to resume the stalled international talks on ending its nuclear programs, and that it agrees to work with the United States to narrow unspecified "remaining differences."
The statement from North Korea's Foreign Ministry was the first reaction from the communist nation to three days of high-level talks with President Barack Obama's special envoy. Upon returning from North Korea on Thursday, envoy Stephen Bosworth made similar remarks in Seoul that the two sides reached common understandings on the need to restart the nuclear talks.
The North said in the statement that this week's meetings with the U.S. "deepened mutual understandings, narrowed differences in their respective views and identified not a small number of things in common."
"A series of mutual understandings were also reached on the need to resume" the nuclear talks and to implement a 2005 disarmament pact, the North said in a statement, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
The two sides "agreed to continue to cooperate to narrow remaining differences," it said.
It did not elaborate what those remaining differences are.
‘It was quite positive’
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters that for a "preliminary meeting, it was quite positive."
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley urged the North to make a firm commitment to return to the negotiating table.
"They have to make the fundamental decision, and we did not leave the meeting today believing that they had crossed the threshold that we want to see them cross," he told reporters. "We want to see them come back to the six-party process."
North Korea -- believed capable of building at least a half-dozen atomic bombs -- had been negotiating since 2003 with the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and South Korea on dismantling its nuclear program in exchange for much-needed aid and other concessions.
North Korea ditched the talks earlier this year in anger over the international criticism of its ambitions to develop rocket technology that could be used one day to send a long-range missile hurling across the Pacific.
Weeks later, the regime conducted a nuclear test, test-fired a series of ballistic missiles and threatened to restart its nuclear reactor. The defiance earned widespread condemnation and tighter U.N. sanctions. Pyongyang called it a U.S.-North Korea issue, and demanded bilateral talks.