Two negotiators call nuclear talks in Beijing useful
The two Koreas held a second round of talks in Beijing yesterday amid hopes for some concessions from the North on preconditions for the resumption of the six-party talks on shutting down its nuclear weapons programs.
Wi Sung-lac, Seoul’s chief envoy on the North’s nuclear issue, met his counterpart Ri Yong-ho at the Chang An Club, a private members club, picking up from their first talks in Bali, Indonesia, two months ago.
The result of the one-day talks, held in the morning and afternoon, was not immediately known, but the North was known to have repeated its call for the resumption of the talks without preconditions.
Seoul has suggested the suspension of a uranium enrichment program the North disclosed last year, a suspension of nuclear and missile tests and the return of international inspectors to its nuclear facilities as gestures of seriousness on the North’s part.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, during his first summit with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Russia last month, was known to have hinted at suspension of the testing of weapons of mass destruction, but only after the six-party talks resume.
“The North and South had constructive and useful conversations today for the early resumption of the six-party talks,” Ri told reporters after the meeting. “Based on the result of this meeting, we will continuously make efforts to resume six-party talks swiftly and without preconditions.”
“Such dialogue per se is part of the efforts for the resumption of the six-party talks,” Wi said.
Seoul is expected to report the results of the talks to the U.S., which will decide whether to hold more Washington-Pyongyang talks on the issue, which is considered the final step before a restart of the six-party talks.
A few days after the talks in Bali in July, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan flew to New York for a meeting with U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth, which both sides later said was “constructive,” but didn’t produce a tangible breakthrough.
The Wi-Ri meeting in Bali, the first high-level inter-Korean contact on the North’s denuclearization since the last round of the six-party talks in December 2008, concentrated on building a rapport between the two representatives.
From early this year, the North has been pushing a restart of the six-party talks, which analysts say is driven by its worsening economic conditions and a need to come up with some breakthroughs to impress its people ahead of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the nation’s founder Kim Il Sung next year.
By Moon Gwang-lip [firstname.lastname@example.org]
한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
위성락·이용호 … 6자회담 재개 실마리 찾았나
“베이징 회담 유익했다”
제2차 남북 비핵화 회담이 21일 중국 베이징 시내 장안클럽에서 열렸다. 남북 6자회담 수석대표인 위성락 한반도평화교섭본부장과 북한 이용호 외무성 부상은 이날 3시간에 걸친 마라톤 회담과 만찬 회동까지 해가며 6자회담 재개 문제, 즉 6자회담 재개 전 북한이 취해야 할 ‘사전조치’에 대해 집중 논의했다. 정부 당국자는 회담이 끝난 뒤 “서로 유익하고 좋은 대화였으며, 이런 대화 과정을 지속해 나가면 진전을 볼 수 있겠다는 기대를 갖게 됐다”고 밝혔다.
이 부상은 회담이 끝난 뒤 “이번 회담 결과를 토대로 6자회담을 전제조건 없이 빨리 재개하기 위한 노력을 기울여 나갈 것”이라고 말했다. 전제조건 없는 회담 개최를 재차 강조한 것이다.
겉으로만 보면 양측이 평행선을 달린 것처럼 보이지만 북한이 비핵화 사전조치와 관련된 일부 진전된 입장을 내보였다는 관측이 나온다. 가시적 성과 도출엔 한계를 노출했지만 향후 북·미 대화에서 북한이 보일 긍정적 실마리를 우리 측에 던졌을 수 있다는 얘기다. 다음 달 중 스티븐 보즈워스 미 대북정책 특별대표가 평양을 방문할 것으로 보인다.