Seeing reason for optimism over six-party talks

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Seeing reason for optimism over six-party talks

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South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, right, meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, left, in Bali, Indonesia, yesterday, on the sideline of the Asean Regional Forum. [YONHAP]


The expectation is growing that long-awaited progress in talks among the six countries concerning the Korean Peninsula and North Korea’s denuclearization could be made at a much wider Asian-Pacific gathering that started yesterday in the Indonesian resort area of Bali.

Foreign Ministers of 10 Asean countries, meeting their counterparts from South Korea, China and Japan on the first day of the Asean Regional Forum, set the mood by issuing a statement urging “the early resumption of the six-party talks.”

“We wish to see the six-party talks resume and both Koreas resume their inter-Korean communication,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who chairs the Asean, told reporters after the Asean+3 meeting.

The ARF, which combines a series of gatherings through Saturday for the largest annual security forum in Asia, brings together top diplomatic representatives of 27 countries including all members of the six-party talks.

North Korea, which suspended the multinational talks with its withdrawal in April 2009, is known to have sent to the ARF a key diplomatic delegation including its representative to the six-party talks.

Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, North Korea’s front man on the country’s nuclear issues and diplomacy with the U.S., was known to accompany North Korea’s Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun, who left Beijing early yesterday for Bali, local media reported. Ri was not on the original list of North Korean attendants registered in the event, leading some to suspect that Seoul and Pyongyang are talking behind the scenes for a breakthrough in the restart of the six-party talks.

Ri’s attendance at the meeting was to be confirmed last night at the earliest when the plane carrying the North Korean delegation arrived in Bali.

Seoul is also holding on to expectations there could be progress on the matter in Bali. Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan has said he is open to a possible meeting with his North Korean counterpart Pak. South Korea’s six-party talks chief delegate Wi Sung-lac is also attending the event.

Seoul, still reeling over provocations by the North last year, is clinging to stage-by-stage processes for resuming the six-party talks starting with inter-Korean dialogue, where it wants to test the North’s sincerity.

Seoul officials indicated earlier this week that the government will not bring up the provocations during a possible foreign ministers’ meeting at the ARF, lowering the bar for the North to respond to the South’s call for inter-Korean denuclearization talks.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [연합]
“남 위성락 - 북 이용호 … 발리서 회동 가능성”

아세안지역안보포럼 참석

인도네시아 발리에서 북한의 비핵화를 의제로 남북이 마주 앉을 가능성에 무게가 실리고 있다. 특히 핵 문제와 관련한 북한의 실질적인 대외 창구인 이용호 외무성 부상이 아세안지역안보포럼(ARF)에 참석한 것으로 확인돼 남북 6자회담 수석대표(우리 측 위성락 외교부 한반도평화교섭본부장) 회담이 이뤄질 것이라는 관측이 우세하다. 정부 핵심 당국자는 21일 “두 사람이 공식이든 비공식이든 만날 가능성을 배제할 수 없다”며 “두 사람이 만난다면 비핵화 예비회담이든 실질적인 비핵화 회담이든 논의가 진행될 것”이라고 말했다.

조병제 외교부 대변인도 이날 “남북 간의 대화 가능성을 배제할 수 없다”고 밝혔다.

 최근 남북, 북·미 회담을 동시에 열고 6자회담으로의 조속한 이행을 촉구하던 중국의 양제츠(楊潔<7BEA>·양결지) 외교부장도 이날 김성환 외교장관과의 양자 회담에서 ‘선(先) 남북대화’ 원칙을 강조했다.

 북한의 움직임도 분주하다. 이날 오후 늦게 발리에 들어온 박의춘 외무상은 22일 오전 8시부터 의장국인 인도네시아, 중국과 각각 양자회담을 할 예정이다. 이와 관련, 북한의 국장급 실무진은 이날 “두 나라 외교장관이 만나느냐”는 기자들의 질문에 “23일 모든 입장을 정리해 발표할 것”이라 말해 여운을 남겼다.

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