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Is the Time Ripe for Six-party Talks?

Posted February. 04, 2005 22:56,   


Coupled with President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address on February 2 interpreted as a “mild gesture against North Korea,” there are signs that the six-party talks are ready to reopen.

Authorities who are actually in charge of the talks, however, warned against assigning more meaning than the continuance of the six-party talks, saying that that resolution of the North Korea issue will be a “long and far” journey.

Introducing President Bush’s telephone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro on February 3, White House spokesman Scott McClellan stated, “Pyongyang signaled that it wanted to resume the talks.”

At the Foreign Press Club in Washington on January 31, White House publicity advisor Dan Bartlett disclosed the true perspective of the U.S. regarding the characteristics of the six-party talks.

He said, “North Korea should talk very sincerely at the negotiation table.” The stress on integrity revealed the basic perception of the U.S. that the six-party talks should serve as an opportunity for the North to “confess” its nuclear programs.

On February 3, the day after the presidential address, there was a strong consensus on Washington’s diplomatic avenue that the resumption of the eight-month long, dead, talks itself should be highly evaluated.

Meanwhile, there is concern over the burden that the North must assume in case the talks winds up again as a seat “for only making each one’s own arguments and confirming the differences,” just as the past three talks have had. As the aggressive parties within the U.S. have been pointing out, there were experts who reminded that the “fourth talks could be the last one.”

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com