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N.K.–U.S.–China–Russia talks underway without S. Korea

N.K.–U.S.–China–Russia talks underway without S. Korea

Posted October. 02, 2017 07:33,   

Updated October. 02, 2017 08:08


The U.S. administration has admitted opening a few channels of closed dialogues with North Korea. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters of the United States on Sunday, after having talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. “We ask: Would you (North Korea) like talk? We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout; we have a couple, three channels opened to Pyongyang,” said Rex Tillerson. “We are looking into whether North Korean officials are interested in or ready for talks. We can talk to them. We do talk to them."

This is the first time for a senior member of the Trump administration to acknowledge direct communication with North Korea with its own behind-the-curtains channels. Tillerson’s remarks seem to demonstrate a gesture to turn over his nation’s dangerous game of chicken with the North, exercising combative rhetoric to each other, to a dialogue.

The Chinese president also showed signs of willingness for cooperation with Washington to solve the North Korea debacle. Mr. Xi was quoted by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as telling Mr. Tillerson, “The two countries should strengthen communication and coordination on major international and regional issues. The common interest of China and the United States is much greater than the differences. Cooperation is the only correct choice.”

There are concerns, however, that N. Korea-U.S., N. Korea–Russia and U.S.–China communications, which are underway without South Korea, may lead to another “Korea Passing” situation. According to a diplomatic source, “If North Korea and the United States buckle down to talks, it is inevitable that the South Korean government will have less room than now in dealing with North Korean issues.”

It has been confirmed that Chung Eui-yong, the head of the National Security Office in Seoul, had a phone call conversation with Tillerson after the U.S.–China talk. “South Korea is working closely with the United States in maintaining channels of communication with North Korea,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun said. “Nevertheless, North Korea has shown no interest in serious dialogue.”

Wan-Jun Yun zeitung@donga.com · Jeong-Hun Park sunshade@donga.com