Sunday, July 10, 2005

North Korea promises return to talks this month

I really hate to report on the latest promises of North Korea, since they so often end up being not panning out, but Pyongyang has agreed to return to the six-way talks this month. The week of July 25, to be precise. Mark your calendars.

This is according to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who met with North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyegwan during a dinner in Beijing. It was confirmed by the KCNA, which added Pyongyang's justification:
The U.S. side clarified its official stand to recognize (North Korea) as a sovereign state, not to invade it and hold bilateral talks within the framework of the six-party talks.
The news comes as Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice is visiting Beijing, Tokyo, and Seoul. In good form, she refrained from some of the negative rhetoric that Pyongyang has complained about, and she made assurances that Washington has no intention to attack North Korea (but who knows what Oregon is up to), which it recognizes as a sovereign state. (Iraq was a sovereign state, too).

Hill says Kim told him that the purpose of the late July meeting would be ridding the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons and that North Korea was intent of making progress toward this goal.


  1. I am hoping the whole Iraq experience has taught the American administration a lesson or two about invasions... I watched the Korean news this morning and it sounds like the North Koreans are serious, at least today. We shall see. I always wonder why Japan has to be there? Could you shed light on the matter?

  2. North Korea, having once been brutally occupied by Japan, may find it annoying that Tokyo is there (though much of this is rhetoric and posturing), but Japan has legitimate reasons for being at the table.

    (By the way, the brutality of the North Korean regime to its own people far, far, far outweighs the brutality of the Japanese to the people of the same region--in terms of torture, deprivation, oppression, cruelty, etc.--in the decades earlier.)

    First of all, Japan is legitimately threatened by North Korea's nukes. North Korea has deliberately test-fired missiles over Japan and has threatened Japan militarily (in the event of war). Tokyo has a stake in seeing this process through, much more than Russia and perhaps more than everyone except South Korea.

    Tokyo also has the kidnapee issue with Pyongyang (so does Seoul, though that issue gets considerably less play in South Korea, where other North Korean indiscretions make the kidnapping pale in comparison), so arguably, North Korea has drawn Japan into any comprehensive discussions about the region.

    And more pragmatically, Japan can provide many of the "carrots" that might be used in a disarmament deal. A final peace treaty with North Korea could mean billions of dollars is restitution or reparations. Diplomatic recognition could also open the door to more economic opportunities (everyone on the right seems to bash Seoul for its Sunshine Policy, but Tokyo is poised to enter into a high degree of engagement if the kidnapee issue is resolved).

    Japan is already a major source of North Korea's hard currency (even though it is South Korea that gets bashed for engaging these monsters in Pyongyang). Not just money sent to relatives in North Korea by ethnic Koreans in Japan, but also investment, trade, etc.

  3. I see, all good points. I just wonder if Japan being there is like four against two... Different kind of opression during the colonial period however.

  4. Four against two? Depending on how you look at it, it's five against one (since China really doesn't want NK to have nukes) or three against three (since Russia may want to check US interest in the region and Putin may start siding more with its totalitarian neighbors).

    Yes, Japan was bad in different ways, but while it's one thing for South Koreans or even Chinese to complain about a lack of contrition on the modern Japanese government for what happened, it's an entirely different thing for a much worse North Korea to use that as a pretext for kicking Japan out of the talks. Especially when it has been kidnapping the citizens of Japan.

  5. True, it's just the way it looks to me. (the 4-2 thing) From all accounts (KCNA, the only place for news!) the kidnapped Japanese are loving it in the workers paradise ;o)

  6. Over here, we can't get KCNA. What exactly do they say about the kidnapees?

    Or are you referring to the Japanese who voluntarily followed their North Korean (but often Japanese-born) spouses to North Korean in the 1960s? That group is no secret, but I'm surprised if the KCNA is actually admitting that Japanese were kidnapped.


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