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Although North Korea’s April 5 rocket launch has made dealing with Pyongyang a priority for the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, the six-party talks should remain the main forum for engaging the North, according to an intelligence analyst.

“The six-party framework really remains the appropriate framework for addressing the North Korean nuclear issue,” David Gordon, who previously worked for the U.S. National Intelligence Council and the CIA, said after addressing the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. “I do not believe that the other (five) parties should accept North Korea’s unilateral effort to withdraw” from the framework, he said.

Gordon, who also served as director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from June 2007 to last January, said it would be inappropriate for Washington to engage directly with Pyongyang at this point because it would be “really rewarding” the North for its “very provocative behavior.”

He predicted “heightened diplomacy,” particularly among the United States, Japan, China and South Korea, to start re-engaging Pyongyang. The six-party talks also involve Russia.

In that respect, he said, “The role of China is very important in bringing North Korea back to the table.”

Gordon also forecast the Obama administration will reassert the six-party framework and the commitments the North has made through the talks up until now.

He expressed skepticism about a quick breakthrough in the abduction issue, Japan’s key concern, and in denuclearizing the North.

Gordon, head of research and director of global macro analysis at the New York-based global political risk research and consulting firm Eurasia Group, also said there will be a lot of continuity in U.S. policy in East Asia and “a much broader engagement with China.”

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