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Differences Between US and NK Lower Expectations For Beijing Nuke Talks

Differences Between US and NK Lower Expectations For Beijing Nuke Talks

Posted August. 28, 2003 18:06,   


The long-awaited six-party meetings involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Russia, and Japan aimed at resolving North Korea`s nuclear threat opened its first session at Diao Yu Tai State Guest House at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday in Beijing, China.

At the meeting, participating countries delivered keynote speeches unveiling their positions and proposals regarding the nuclear issue. However, political experts expected that it would be difficult for the US and the North to iron out their differences on granting Pyongyang a security guarantee and dismantling its nuclear weapons program, as the two sides made no offer of concessions on the contentious issues.

During his speech, Assistant United States Secretary of State James Kelly underscored the need for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program completely, irreversibly and in a verifiable manner, demanding up-front concessions from the Pyongyang side.

To this end, the North should immediately return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and accept an inspection of the International Atomic Energy Agency, James Kelly said. It is known that Kelly said if the North gives up its nuclear ambitions, the international community along with the US would provide comprehensive financial assistance to help the North out from its dire economic difficulties.

In response, the North`s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Young-il repeated his position that the U.S. giving up its hostile North Korea policy and the North abandoning its nuclear weapons program should take place at the same time, adding that Pyongyang feels bound to keep its nuke program as a deterrence as long as threats from Washington continue.

The North delegation is known to have mentioned that the US forces stationed in South Korea are posing a threat to the security of the Korean Peninsula, suggesting its willingness to use the withdrawal of US forces from the Korean Peninsula as a bargaining chip according to developments of the talks.

During his keynote speech, South Korea`s chief delegate and Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyeok said that South Korea will make a sincere effort to persuade the North to join international financial organizations and that large-scale economic cooperation projects are on the horizon after the nuclear issue is resolved.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Aug 26 that the US delegation will firmly rule out offering North Korea any concessions until it unilaterally abandons its nuclear program in a "complete, verifiable and irreversible" way because hardliners within the US administration have prevailed in the debate leading up to the talks.

The US newspaper also said that the US chief delegate James Kelly should conduct negotiations without offering incentives to the North and that any American concessions would come only at the end, after North Korea admits the full scope of its nuclear activity, halts such activity and readmits inspectors.

However, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov outlined his position in an interview with Itar-tass, a Russian daily, saying “Participating countries should achieve three goals, such as improving mutual understanding, creating an amicable atmosphere for dialogue, and working on measures to end the nuclear standoff. Therefore, it is desirable for the concerned nations to convene follow-up talks, at least once, within the year because achieving those goals will take some time.”

Japan’s head delegate Mitoji Yabunaka, director-general at the Foreign Ministry said in a luncheon meeting with Japanese reporters Aug 27, “If participating countries express their opinions on issues they are concerned about in the six-way talks and accordingly, they agree to open a follow-up meeting, this six-party dialogue can be considered fruitful.”

Yoo-Sung Hwang Young-Sik Kim yshwang@donga.com spear@donga.com