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Originally published June 25, 2013 at 4:48 PM | Page modified June 26, 2013 at 8:44 AM

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Editorial: The U.S. should step up to North Korea

The U.S. should respond to North Korea’s call for direct talks. Progress on the diplomatic front might also lead to the release of Lynnwood's Kenneth Bae.

Seattle Times Editorial

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NORTH Korea wants to talk to the United States, but the rogue government needs to do more than say so. It needs to show it.

U.S. diplomats would like to talk, too, but have been consistently clear that Pyongyang should show its commitment to denuclearization first.

North Korea’s behavior over the past several months, including an underground nuclear test in February and threats against the U.S. and South Korea, demonstrate the opposite.

Stability in the Korean peninsula is in every country’s best interest, so it's welcome news when top Chinese officials reiterate their neighbor and longtime ally is ready to engage with the international community over its weapons program. North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations repeated the call for peace talks last Friday.

OK, how about some good faith? North Korea should stop nuclear tests.

And how about freeing Kenneth Bae? The American tour operator from Lynnwood has been detained in North Korea since November. According to various news reports, Bae was convicted of “hostile” acts against the country and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Amnesty International questions the charges and Bae’s lack of access to an attorney. The U. S. Department of State has called on North Korea to grant Bae amnesty and release him.

China remains a key partner in all this. Beijing is growing frustrated with the recent show of force by Pyongyang.

Analysts surmise North Korea’s real motive is to get sanctions lifted and some much-needed humanitarian aid to its people. The U.S. side’s hesitance to deal directly with the current regime reflects a history of getting burned.

Time for North Korea to show it is willing to engage in meaningful talks.

If progress leads to Bae's freedom, even better.

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