6-party nations to meet, but without the North

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6-party nations to meet, but without the North

Officials from five of the six-party talks members are expected to hold a meeting along the sidelines of an international cyberspace conference held in Seoul this week, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The two-day Seoul Conference on Cyberspace kicks off tomorrow at the COEX Convention Center.

Government officials from the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea - five of the six-party members - are expected to attend.

North Korea was not invited to the cyberspace conference.

“A meeting between the five-party nations, excluding North Korea, is in the works,” said Cho Tai-young, Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Second Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul, who will also attend the cyberspace conference, is expected to attend the meeting, Cho added.

He did not confirm which day the talks would take place.

In particular, the five nations are expected to focus on cooperation on the issue of cybersecurity, and building up trust on soft core issues in the midst of heavier issues such as the denuclearization of Pyongyang, which recently restarted its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

Denuclearization talks between the six-party nations have been at a standstill since 2008 after Pyongyang walked out of the last session.

The meeting of the five-party nations is a part of President Park Geun-hye’s “Northeast Asia peace initiative,” to promote dialogue between the five-party nations, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The Ministry of National Defense submitted data to the National Assembly amid ongoing parliamentary hearings that the total damage from North Korean cyberattacks on the South is estimated to be more than 860 billion won ($806.8 million) between 2009 and 2013. North Korea has conducted 6,392 cyber attacks against the South’s military since 2010.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry yesterday said that it will make an “active endeavor” to create conditions for the resumption of six-party talks and engage in communications with relevant parties.

The ministry’s spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing that China hoped that “relevant parties can seize the opportunity to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula” and that they can “step up efforts to accumulate mutual trust so as to create conditions for the restart of the six-party talks.”

Likewise, during a National Assembly audit of the Ministry of Unification yesterday, Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said, “If North Korea can show progress in denuclearization, six-party talks can be valuable.”

His statement was in response to a lawmaker’s question on whether the Korean government supports the resuming of six-party talks.

But South Korea said the timing of the resumption of six-party talks is dependent on whether North Korea shows indications of denuclearization.

“Until now, North Korea through the vicious cycle of ‘provocation-negotiation-rewards-provocation’ in the process of denuclearization negotiations has advanced its nuclear capabilities and has actualized its nuclear powers,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a report submitted to the National Assembly on Monday. “To end this vicious cycle, dialogue must bring substantive progress in the North’s denuclearization.”

The ministry further said that “the timing of resumption of six-party talks depends on North Korea.”

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