[EDITORIALS]Keep the talks in focusThe first session of the fifth round of six-party talks went into recess yesterday without fixing a date for the next meeting. The participants adopted the chairman’s statement reaffirming the principles stated in the Sept. 19 joint statement, at the previous round of talks. The chairman’s statement also said the six nations agreed to hold a second session of the fifth round of six-party talks at the earliest possible date. Concerns are high, however, that the talks will be set adrift.
North Korea has taken issue with the U.S. assertion that Pyongyang had been laundering money through a Macao bank and demanded that the United States end its freeze of the assets of North Korean firms. There was a debate over whether the North’s complaints were outside the range of the six-party talks. The six nations exchanged their positions on the issues at the chief negotiators’ meeting and decided not to include the North’s claims in the chairman’s statement, as they agreed that the issues were outside the range of the joint statement of the last round meeting.
The six-party talks are basically a discussion on how to achieve a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and end North Korea’s nuclear aspirations. Obstructing the progress of the talks by bringing up the issue of economic sanctions makes no sense. China and Russia, which have supported the North, did not back up Pyongyang this time.
North Korea must not forget that the basic aims of the six-nation talks are the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the formation of a framework for peace and stability among the two Koreas and Northeast Asia. Pyongyang must try to build trust by fulfilling the spirit of the Sept. 19 joint statement. The North should implement each item of the accord in a harmonious manner, word-for-word and action-for-action. That would bring the nuclear crisis to an early conclusion.
Once a resolution to the nuclear issue is found, the looming threat of sanctions will disappear and the stability of the North Korean regime will be enhanced. Also, the North will be able to receive large-scale economic assistance from the international community.
It is fortunate, though, that the six nations agreed to work out specific measures and procedures for the implementation of the joint statement and reaffirmed their will to achieve a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula as soon as possible. Fortunately, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting begins in Busan today. The participants in the talks must keep the momentum by fixing a date for the next round soon and demonstating the usefulness of the six-party talks.