China, UN envoys to urge North to return to table
Wang Jiarui, director of the International Liaison Department at the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, met North Korean Workers’ Party officials over a banquet Saturday, the North’s state-run Central News Agency reported. Kim Yong-il, chief of the party’s international department, was among the North Koreans who attended the event, according to the report, which did not elaborate on the content of the discussions.
Wang is expected to stay in the North for about four days, diplomatic sources in Seoul said. They said he will likely urge the North to return to the stalled six-party talks.
It is also remained to be seen if Wang will be able to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Since his first trip to the North in 2001, Wang has visited the country a number of times. He again met Kim during visits in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009, each time delivering a message from Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Six-party negotiations on the North’s nuclear disarmament were last held in December 2008. North Korea has vowed it will never again take part in the talks.
A special envoy of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, B. Lynn Pascoe, arrived in Seoul over the weekend en route to the North. Pascoe will be in Pyongyang from today until Friday, delivering Ban’s message to North Korean authorities.
Meanwhile, the two Koreas will also sit down for talks today in Kaesong to discuss the fate of inter-Korean tour programs. The working-level talks will be devoted to possible resumption of South Korean tours to Kaesong and Mount Kumgang.
Tours to Mount Kumgang, which ran for about 10 years, ended in July 2008 when a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean solider. In December of that year, tours to Kaesong were also shut down.
Despite Seoul’s demand to have government-to-government talks on the tour programs, the North will use a civilian channel to represent its side.
The South’s delegation will be headed by Kim Nam-shik, director of the Unification Ministry. The North’s delegation will be led by Kang Yong-chol, councilor of the North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, a civilian organization devoted to inter-Korean projects.
By Ser Myo-ja [email@example.com]
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