Inter-Korea thaw spurs hopes for 6-way talks

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Inter-Korea thaw spurs hopes for 6-way talks

With signs of easing tensions between the two Koreas, who have agreed to reopen the Kaesong industrial park and hold family reunions, special envoys of six-party-talks member governments are on the move. The travels include a pair of U.S. diplomats who will arrive in Asia next week.

Glyn Davies, U.S. special representative for North Korean policy, and Daniel Russel, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, will visit Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo, presumably for talks on how to exploit the North-South thaw to resume the long-stalled multilateral negotiations with North Korea.

On Monday, China’s point man on the North’s nuclear program, Wu Dawei, arrived in Pyongyang and is expected to discuss restarting the six-party talks, whose goal is a “grand bargain” in which North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons programs in return for economic aid and recognition.

Wu, China’s special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, is expected to meet with Kim Kye-gwan, first vice foreign minister of North Korea.

Kim is North Korea’s chief negotiator in the six-party talks. Last month, he talked with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Morgulov in Moscow, who told journalists later that substantial differences still remained. In June, he made a four-day visit to Beijing.

The first of the landmark six-party talks between the United States, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas were held on Aug. 27, 2003, but have been stalled since 2008 when Pyongyang walked out.

“As North Korea has already declared the six-party talks pointless, there must be a diplomatic gesture in some form to make them change that attitude,” one diplomatic source in Beijing told the JoongAng Ilbo. “Wu Dawei is probably visiting Pyongyang to persuade North Korea to be receptive to talks.”

Yonhap News Agency quoted a diplomatic source yesterday as saying that a senior North Korean military official had proposed four-party talks with South Korea, China and the United States, to discuss its nuclear weapons program. That proposal was met with skepticism by Seoul and Washington, the source told Yonhap.

Separately, Robert King, the U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights issues, will wrap up tomorrow a trip to Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo to speak with senior officials and civilian activists on the human rights issues in Pyongyang.


BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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