Go to contents

U.S. Strategy Set for Talks With North

Posted November. 28, 2006 08:48,   


On November 27, Christopher Hill, the top U.S. negotiator to the six-party talks and assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told the reporters upon his arrival in Beijing that “The U.S has made it clear it wants to hold a dialogue with Pyongyang within the framework of the six-party talks.”

Thus, the U.S. is willing to meet with Kim Gye Gwan, the North Korean top negotiator to the six-party talks and North Korea’s vice foreign minister, when he makes a visit to Beijing on November 28 as the North has already agreed to return to the negotiating table.

Hill added, “We want to open a dialogue but we have to consult with China for the timetable. I will stay for a couple of days here in China and make a tour to Seoul and Tokyo.”

He will reportedly propose Kim restart the six-nation talks and establish five working groups that will deal with the dismantlement process of the North Korea’s nuclear programs and to envisage corresponding incentives toward North Korean people in return.

According to a diplomatic source, Washington’s five proposed working groups will concentrate on operating the denuclearization process in North Korea; normalizing the North Korea-U.S. Korea relationship and the North Korea-Japan relationship; implementing financial sanctions on the North; setting up economic cooperation, including energy supply to Pyongyang; and establishing a peace treaty regime, respectively.

Even if all member states of the six-nation nuclear dismantlement talks, including North Korea, unanimously approve the idea, the five working groups are not likely to commence at the same time.

The denuclearization team and economic cooperation team, which will address the energy supply issue, are expected to get to work first, given that the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear programs is the key agenda of the negotiating table.

As the six-party talks proceed and if Pyongyang, Washington, and Tokyo make progress, another working group to normalize the diplomatic relations and a group to build a peace treaty regime will likely start work.

The financial sanctions team, among the five working groups, may be an obstacle to the success of the six-party talks, however. The six-party talks could stop if Pyongyang demands the lifting of the freeze on its bank account in the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia (BDA) and Washington refuses.

Given this possible scenario, Seoul, Washington, and Beijing are mulling over operating the working groups separately from the main negotiations. However, for the North Korean part, it will likely require a previous commitment to resolve the BDA bank account issue in the upcoming preliminary talks between the North and the U.S. before the resumption of the six-party talks or the establishment of the working groups. If the confrontation continues to aggravate between North Korea and the U.S. over the financial sanctions, the year-long stalled six-party talks could be difficult to resume this year.