Monday, August 29, 2005

China versus Thailand on North Korea

North Korea seems to have agreed to come back, but after a two-week delay. According to Reuters, a spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry said Pyongyang thought it would be best to wait until after the joint U.S.-South Korean drills were over to resume the nuclear discussions: "Our position is to resume six-way talks in the week of September 12 by when some of the dust of war exercises has subsided ... this is all what we can offer at this stage." The appointment of a U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights was another reason for the delay.

Thailand says North Korea is not ready to return to the hexagonal table in Beijing, while China's ambassador to the U.S. says that the talks are very close to a joint statement. Meanwhile the United States says talks are "likely" but not this week.

The comment by Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon has people concerned. Is it a return to months or years of delay, or is it just a ploy to up their bargaining position? Either way, nothing the U.S., Japan, or South Korea has done to warrant this, at least in world opinion, so the onus is on Pyongyang if things fall apart.

For your edification and information, here is what the Thai FM had to say:
...The North Koreans said that they are willing to dismantle their nuclear weapons as long as there is trust among the parties concerned. They say they are ready to dismantle and go back to the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency to step in, as long as there is trust among parties.
How about some trust from the North Koreans? Geez, if they weren't the ones bringing the nukes, we wouldn't even invite them to the party.

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