Tuesday, August 30, 2005

U.S. congressmen head for Pyongyang

In olden times, Korean kings would sit in their palaces and wait as a parade of emissaries and other important people dropped in to show their respects, do a little kowtow, gush praise, and then get to business.

Given that the North Korean leadership likes to have the world come to it instead of them going to the world (and who can blame them, when people may or may not be trying to blow up your train), it seems like Pyongyang is a modern-day re-enactment of those days long past.

Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon was on the agenda last week, and now it's U.S. Representatives Tom Lantos (D-California) and Jim Leach (R-Iowa). According to AFP, Lantos and Leach are headed North "in a bid to narrow the gap separating the two sides and urge the Stalinist state to quickly return to talks on its nuclear weapons drive."

At Beijing Airport, Lantos said he and Leach would try to convince North Korea it was in its interests to return to the bargaining table as early as possible:
The last session went extremely well. We are headed to Pyongyang to clarify the remaining problems and to urge the North Korean government to return to talks in two weeks. We have a very positive outlook and approach and we are highly optimistic that the talks will succeed.
North Korea has been lashing out at the United States over US-ROK war games and the appointment of a U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights, saying that "Dialogue and war exercises can never go together." As if in response, Lantos says has said,"The major issues will be resolved and our job ... is to lubricate the process."

As Nora Park has sometimes mused, North Korea's leaders seem to respond well to incidents where they're getting respect. If Albright dancing with KJI gets us somewhere, maybe having reps from both the Democrats and the Republicans come there to sweet-talk the fat man might earn some points.

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