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`Unofficial N. Korean Mission to Visit U.S. by Year`s End`

`Unofficial N. Korean Mission to Visit U.S. by Year`s End`

Posted October. 23, 2008 09:46,   


Whenever the United States and North Korea face a crisis in negotiations, “Track 2,” or unofficial diplomatic channels, is put into operation.

Tony Namgung (photo) is the only Korean American assigned to “Track 2” in dealing with Pyongyang. He is visiting South Korea, China and Japan to gather opinions before the resumption of the six-party nuclear talks.

Earning a Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley and a former vice president of the university’s Korean studies think tank, Namgung is chief adviser to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Democrat Richardson, a veteran of North Korean affairs, is likely to serve as chief adviser on North Korean issues if Barack Obama wins the presidential election next month.

On whether the next round of the six-party talks is likely to be held before year’s end, Namgung was negative.

“The U.S. wants to go beyond verbal agreement and make an official agreement on nuclear inspection and sample collection, uranium enrichment program, and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons,” he said. “In short, it wants to begin the third phase of North Korea’s nuclear dismantlement. But the North has declined. The six-party talks may not be held before the end of this year.”

Namgung said, however, that an unofficial diplomatic mission from the North will visit the United States before year’s end and that a reciprocal U.S. visit will come in January.

“The unofficial visits are not related to the six-party talks,” he said. “Representatives of the two nations will include high-ranking officials who even can plainly speak to their presidents.”

In short, the exchange of unofficial representatives this year will be tantamount to a meeting between North Korea and the new U.S. administration.