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N. Korea Changes Attitude at Talks

Posted December. 20, 2006 03:02,   


On December 19, the second day of the second phase of the 5th six-party talks held in Beijing, China, North Korea acceded to the proposal made by the U.S. to hold bilateral talks right after the implementation of a working group intended to discuss the financial sanctions by the U.S. against North Korea.

The U.S. had offered the North Korean side bilateral negotiations on December 17 and 18 consecutively, only to be rejected by North Korea.

This is North Korea accentuating its will to connect the bilateral talks, the core channel for the discussions on the denuclearization, and corresponding acts, with the North Korean account at the Banco Delta Asia in Macao (BDA), which is frozen.

The contention of North Korea is that it cannot accept the attempts by South Korea and the U.S. to promote the separation of the six-party talks and the working group discussions.

It is said North Korea, during the bilateral talks held in Diaoyutai, Beijing on the same day, suggested a variety of conditions such as the relinquishment by the U.S. of anti-North Korea policies as the preconditions for the discussion of denuclearization. This repeats the core assertions North Korea made in its keynote address in the general conference of the six-party talks held the previous day.

Meanwhile, in the meeting of the chief delegates to the six-party talks on this day North Korea did not mention some of its demands and worded its points in a softened manner, giving suggestions to other party nations whether North Korea is willing to lower the level of its demands and find an accordance with the measure of “concurrent fulfillment of the denuclearization and corresponding acts.”

A government official said, “The air is better than on December 18 when North Korea made its strong keynote address.”

Some analyze that the fact that North Korea held the BDA working group discussions this day at the American embassy in China, the “enemy base,” is another sign that suggests the change in North Korea’s attitude.

Previous to this, Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and the U.S. chief delegate to the six-party talks, said in the morning the same day, “We think the working group discussion will be held in Diaoyutai.” Therefore, possibilities are being suggested that North Korea offered to hold the discussion at the American embassy.

The suggestion is that North Korea feared that the findings by the U.S. Treasury proving that North Korea conducted illegal deeds through BDA could be revealed to other parties to the six-party talks in case the BDA working group discussions are held in Diaoyutai where the six-party talks are held, and chose the embassy of U.S as the site.

But it is unlikely that North Korea will easily admit the findings by the U.S. regarding North Korea’s account at BDA. Many anticipate that North Korea will use the working group discussions as the counteracting card until it induces more economic aids including the supply of light-water reactor, even if it comes to a point in the future where North Korea has to back up a step.

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