January 13, 2009 / 5:56 PM / 9 years ago

Clinton: six-party talks are "a vehicle" on North Korea

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday backed the six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions but said she would review how best to approach the poor, Communist state.

"It is a framework that the president-elect (Barack Obama) and I believe has merit but it also provides an opportunity ... for bilateral contact as well between North Korea and the United States," Clinton said of the talks, which include the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Under the six-party talks, North Korea in 2005 agreed to abandon all its nuclear programs. However, Pyongyang tested a nuclear device in 2006 and has since dragged its feet on carrying out agreements on disabling its plutonium program.

Clinton signaled support for the existing multilateral approach but she also hinted at an openness to alternatives.

"This is under review. We are looking at all of the record of the negotiation up to this date. Our goal is to end the North Korean nuclear programs," the New York Democrat said at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is widely expected to support her nomination.

"It is our strong belief that the six-party talks ... is a vehicle for us to exert pressure on North Korea in a way that is more likely to alter their behavior," she added. "We will embark upon a very aggressive effort to try to determine the best way forward to achieve our objectives with them."

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by David Alexander

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