China upbeat about wooing North to 6-party talks

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China upbeat about wooing North to 6-party talks

China’s government has told the ambassadors of countries involved in the six-party talks that North Korea, which has done an about-face from its aggressive language and behavior earlier this year, is showing signs of willingness to return to the long-stalled denuclearization negotiations.

On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry sent the embassies of South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia a report of the visit by Wu Dawei, its envoy to the talks, to Pyongyang last week. The report said the North had shown a willingness to abide by international commitments on denuclearization, diplomatic sources said. That raised at least tentative hopes for a thaw in the long-frozen forum, which has not met since 2008. Pyongyang officially walked out of the talks in 2009.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said Tuesday that Pyongyang and Beijing had “exchanged opinions on the issues of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the resumption of the six-party talks.” Wu’s interlocutor in Pyongyang was First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye-gwan.

Wu was in Pyongyang for five days ending Friday and had time for some sightseeing as well. He visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where Kim Il Sung’s mausoleum is located, and watched the Arirang games, an annual mass gymnastics and rhythmic dancing exhibition. Beijing’s Defense Ministry, in a statement Tuesday, said that the ministry’s leadership was committed to ending North Korea’s nuclear program.

Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, had said on Monday that North Korea seemed more receptive to further negotiations. Three days earlier, he said Moscow would certainly welcome another round of talks among the six governments involved.

Seoul and Washington are usually somewhat more skeptical about winks and nods from Pyongyang; Cho Tai-young, a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Seoul, said “North Korea first has to show its sincerity through actions.”

North Korea has mellowed toward Seoul recently, agreeing to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex, hold more reunions of separated families and talk about tours at Mount Kumgang.



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

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