Posted October. 17, 2005 06:38,
With the fifth round of the six-party talks to be held in Beijing, China in early November, the concerned countries have started to harmonize their positions in advance.
It has been a month since the announcement of the joint statement from the round of six-party talks that ended on September 19.
Song Min-sun, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and chief of the South Korean delegation to the Six-Party Talks, headed for the United States on October 15. Song is scheduled to meet U.S. administration officials, including U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill, and congressmen, and discuss specific plans to implement the joint statement. On his way back to Korea, he will visit Japan and harmonize Koreas position with Japan.
The government assumes that it would be difficult to draw a detailed agreement on North Koreas nuclear abolition and compensation right away since the fifth round will the be first to discuss how to carry out the joint statement. However, the government will concentrate its efforts to narrow differences among relevant countries on the Norths nuclear dismantlement and when to provide light-water reactors to the North to get a broad outline on nuclear dismantlement.
Chinese Ambassador to Seoul Li Bin, who is the assistant representative of China at the six-party talks, will make a visit to North Korea, the U.S., and South Korea in that order.
Prior to this, Chinas Vice Premier Wu Yi and Wu Dawei, Vice Foreign Minister and China`s top envoy to six-party talks, met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il who was attending a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the North`s Workers` Party.
China, as the host of the six party talks, may figure out the North Korean situation first, and based on this, try to narrow down differences of opinion with the U.S. and South Korea.
Christopher Hill is also expected to visit South Korea, China, and Japan prior to the six-party talks.
His tour of the three countries may come as early as later this month after Korean Assistant Secretary Song and Chinese Ambassador Li visit the U.S.
Meanwhile, whether Hill visits North Korea or not seems to depend on how fruitful prior efforts turn out to be, as there is no reason to visit the North if no tangible results are expected.
In the meantime, the outcome of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardsons three-day visit to the North starting October 17 may affect whether Hill makes a visit to the North and the United States negotiation strategies.