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New York Channel Reopens after Half Year Delay

Posted May. 20, 2005 23:31,   


Can the “New York Channel” between the U.S. and North Korea reopen after running idle for about half a year, and can it serve as a starting point to jump start the stalled the six-way talks? Regarding this, it turns out that officials in Washington have “half hope and half doubt.”

Some experts found hope in the positive attitude of the U.S. and the high interest shown by the North.

In a relatively precise manner, the U.S. State Department made public the news that the U.S. special envoy for the six-way talks Joseph Detrani, and James Foster, a Director of Korean Affairs, U.S. State Department, met with North Korean officials. An official who attended the meeting spoke off the record about the conversations between the U.S, and the North at another event. This is a rather unusual and active reaction.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, who has taken part in the six-way talks and who sees issues eye-to-eye with the U.S., made a positive assessment of the meeting, saying, “The chances of the talks resuming have become higher.”

In addition, some analysts say North Korea showed high concern over the meeting, sending its ambassador to the U.N., Park Gil Yon, instead of Deputy Ambassador Han Song Ryol like they did in the past.

However, some sources in Seoul and Washington said, “This hardly means anything special in terms of the big picture,” warning against unnecessary expectations.

On May 19, they pinpointed the negative statement from the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, a propaganda outlet in North Korea. The statement criticized remarks made by Ambassador Detrani in New York, saying, “The statement that the U.S. recognizes the North as a sovereign state is a lie.” It is too early to understand the statement as an official response to the New York meeting.

However, the communist country lashed out at the U.S., publicizing the specifics of the meeting between the two countries through its state media last December 4, right after the end of the New York channel meeting. Accordingly, some are pessimistic about the statement from the committee, relating it with the former incident.

An official in Washington dismissed a report of Kyodo News that stated, “The North will issue an official reply within two weeks,” as groundless.

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com