U.S. comments on delayed South Korea nuclear agreement

Patrick Ventrell, the acting deputy spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, downplayed the importance of a delayed nuclear deal with South Korea on Wednesday during a media briefing.

On Wednesday, the State Department announced that the U.S. and South Korea would seek a two-year extension of a current peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement. The agreement was set to expire on March 19, 2014. Ventrell said the proposed extension would give both countries time to complete negotiations.

"The purpose of the extension is to provide additional time for our two governments to complete negotiations on an agreement," Ventrell said. "Both sides decided that seeking an extension was appropriate in order to allow sufficient time to negotiate this complex and technical agreement. So it's a very highly complex and technical type of negotiation, and both parties felt that more time would be useful."

When asked if there was a particular reason the last couple of months of intensive negotiations did not yield a new agreement, Ventrell said both parties simply wanted more time.

"I don't think it hinges on one thing or another other than these are very technical talks, and both parties felt that we needed more time," Ventrell said.

The State Department said the U.S. and South Korea will continue negotiations during the extended period to finalize the successor agreement. The U.S. anticipates the next round of discussions on the successor agreement will take place in June.