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Slice the Gordian knot

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Dec 12,2009
Slice the Gordian knot
The visit to Pyongyang by Stephen Bosworth, the special U.S. envoy for North Korean policy, may not have been too bad.

Both the U.S. State Department and the North Korean Foreign Ministry said the two sides had a common understanding on the need to resume the six-party talks and on the importance of implementing the Sept. 19, 2005 joint statement. It’s positive that North Korea, which once declared the six-party talks “dead,” has changed its stance. But it’s unfortunate that the North didn’t make clear its intention to return to the table. Nevertheless, we can now hope for the resumption of the six-party talks in the not-so-distant future following additional consultations. Then the stalemate in the international community, brought on by the North’s nuclear and missile tests, will end, giving way to negotiations. We expect that efforts to accomplish the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and promote peace will be back on track.

Even if the six-party talks reconvene, we have a long way to go and numerous things to do. Ahead of the bilateral talks in Pyongyang, the North had insisted that there would be no denuclearization without resolving the peace issue between itself and the U.S. “Once we’ve been able to reconvene the six-party process and have begun to gain significant traction on the issue of denuclearization, I would expect that we’d all be prepared to discuss the evolution or the negotiation of a peace regime of the Korean Peninsula,” Bosworth said. There are other issues to address at the six-party talks, including provision of economic assistance and diplomatic relations between the North and Japan.

South Korea and the U.S. have said they would pursue a comprehensive package in dealing with the nuclear issue in order to avoid repeating the dialogue-stalemate-nuclear threat cycle. In other words, they want to handle everything all at once. It’s a different approach from the past. The two countries realize that compensating for every phase of denuclearization would not be effective in preventing the North from pulling an about-face. We need the willpower of Alexander the Great and the wisdom of King Solomon. We hope to see a quick resumption of the six-party talks.



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