North Korean men and women participate in a mass dance event at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Oct. 8. (Jon Chol Jin/AP)

I agree with former president Jimmy Carter that North Korean leaders are dedicated to preserving their regime, as he wrote in his Oct. 5 op-ed, "Time to talk to North Korea," but I disagree that the United States should be dedicated to the preservation of that regime.

Despite being known as the human rights president, Mr. Carter omitted how the fundamental rights of the battered and bruised North Korean people should be addressed if talks were held. Assuming that North Koreans are loyal to their leader is questionable, considering the more than 100,000 people in political prison camps, the extreme efforts of Pyongyang to bar its people from accessing outside information and the restrictions placed on leaving the country. A 2005 government directive described “confused elements at home” as “more dangerous than the enemy outside.”

If there is to be a peaceful outcome to the present nuclear stalemate, the nature of the North Korean regime must also be taken into account.

Roberta Cohen, Washington

The writer, a deputy assistant secretary of state for human rights in the Carter administration, is co-chair emeritus of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.