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China shakes up team on 6-party talks, sources say

Jan 28,2004
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has transferred its top negotiators in the multilateral talks with North Korea to ambassador posts and created a new unit to handle the delicate efforts to solve the nuclear issue with Pyeongyang, sources in Beijing said yesterday.
Wang Yi, Chinese vice foreign minister who has spearheaded the six-party talks with North Korea has been appointed as China’s ambassador to Canada. Fu Ying, the director general of Asian affairs and the Chinese representative of the three-party talks in April last year, has been named ambassador to Australia, the sources said.
There is no indication yet of who will replace Mr. Wang and Ms. Fu, but among those who could possibly take a pivotal role in representing China in the six-party talks is Wu Dawei, a former ambassador to South Korea, now serving as China’s ambassador to Japan. According to Chinese Foreign Ministry officials, the replacement of China’s Korea specialists will be formalized at the end of next month.
In October, Beijing appointed Ning Fukui, former ambassador to Cambodia, as special ambassador with responsibility for the North Korean nuclear issue. Under Mr. Ning, who is a director-general in the Foreign Ministry, the Chinese government’s newly established Korean affairs unit will deal exclusively with the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear issue. Diplomatic analysts interpreted the move as a decision by China to focus more sharply on North Korea’s nuclear program.
Officials in Korea said yesterday China has not notified them of the changes. A top Foreign Ministry official said, “I don’t think there would be drastic changes in the foreign policy of China because of the reshuffle.”
The Chinese Embassy in Seoul said they have not been informed of any details of the changes.
This weekend, James Kelly, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, is scheduled to visit Seoul on Sunday to discuss the six-party talks. He will meet newly appointed Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon on Monday.
Resumption of the talks on North Korea has been repeatedly delayed. There was optimism that another round would get under way in mid-December, but knotty issues as well as the holidays in the United States and Asia intruded.


by Yoo Kwang-jong


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