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NK Meeting Plans Still Being Ironed Out

Posted April. 20, 2003 22:08,   


With North Korea`s announcement of its progress in fuel rod reprocessing, all eyes are on whether the three-way talks between North Korea, the U.S. and China will be held this week in Beijing, China, as scheduled.

At a vice-ministerial level meeting in Washington on April 18, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan scheduled the Beijing meeting while the U.S. media reported on April 19 that it has yet to determine whether the meeting would proceed as scheduled.

White House spokesperson Clair Buchan said that the U.S. would consult with South Korea, Japan, and China to gauge the views of its allies before deciding on a proper response to the North’s fuel rod reprocessing.

AFP reported that the trilateral talks in Beijing should get the approval of senior officials in the U.S. State Department and Ministry of Defense as well as U.S. President George W. Bush, currently spending Easter Sunday at his home in Texas.

“Though the U.S. has not fully reviewed the trilateral meeting to be held in Beijing, we understand the meeting will be held as scheduled,” Ra Jong-yil, senior advisor for national security, said.

“Beijing talks will take place as planned,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck, who held a meeting with his counterparts from the U.S. and Japan in Washington on April 18. He went on to say that he felt that Washington did not have any information about Pyongyang’s progress in reprocessing fuel rods and that all three nations have not received any information from the North.

“The U.S. promised to push for multilateral talks, to include South Korea and Japan, in the planned trilateral talks in Beijing, and it will announce that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program should be dismantled in an irrevocable way,” he added.

Meanwhile, the North on April 19 suggested that the 10th round of inter-Korean cabinet-level meetings be held from April 27-29.

Regarding the North`s proposal, Han Sang-il, a spokesman for the Ministry of Unification, said, “South Korea will decide on whether to accept the proposal after consulting with related ministries.” The ministerial-level meeting was supposed to take place in Pyongyang from April 7-10, but that meeting was postponed as the North did not participate in working-level talks.

North Korea`s official Central News Agency reported on April 19 that Cho Myung-rok, first deputy chairman of the defense commission, would visit China April 21-23. However, the news agency did not mention the purpose of the visit.

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