U.S.: North should suit words, deeds
The United States urged North Korea to follow its words with concrete action as Kim Gye-gwan, the chief nuclear negotiator for the North, continued his much-anticipated trip to Beijing amid raised hopes for the resumption of the six-party talks.
Kim’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, lasted more than four hours, but no further details were immediately available.
Kim’s visit is the latest in the series of diplomatic activities that have fueled speculation of an imminent reopening of the multilateral nuclear talks. Earlier this week, Wang Jiarui, a senior Chinese Communist Party official, delivered a message from President Hu Jintao to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. In return, Kim reiterated his country’s commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The United States said yesterday that North Korea was saying all the right things but added, “The right words must be followed by action.”
“Words by themselves are not sufficient,” Philip Crowley, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said in a conference call. “We expect that that will be the message that the Chinese deliver to Kim Gye-gwan while he’s in Beijing, that North Korea should allow China to schedule the next six-party meeting, and [that] North Korea should again commit itself to the obligations that it made previously.”
Crowley also said the United States “absolutely supports” interaction between North Korea and China.
“China is the chair of the six-party process, so it has a leadership role to play, one which we have long valued,” he said. “We think that China and the United States see the current situation with respect to North Korea very similarly.”
Crowley shot down the rumor that Kim Gye-gwan would travel to Washington after wrapping up his visit to China. Kim was accompanied by Ri Gun, the deputy nuclear negotiator and director general of North American affairs at the North Korean Foreign Ministry, and by an English interpreter.
South Korean officials have offered mixed opinions on how much impact the recent developments would have on restarting the six-party process, which has been on hold since December 2008. But Yu Woo-ik, the South Korean ambassador to China, said Seoul appreciates China’s role as the six-party chair.
“As the ambassador to China, I would like to acknowledge China’s efforts to reopen the six-party talks since they have been stalled,” Yu told reporters in Seoul, where he is attending a meeting of South Korean ambassadors and consulate generals. “China has actively gathered opinions from members of the six-party setting and delivered them to North Korea.”
By Yoo Jee-ho [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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