Diplomatic flurry presages talks

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Diplomatic flurry presages talks

As Beijing’s chief nuclear envoy Wu Dawei is in Washington to discuss the possible resumption of six-party talks, a number of high-level meetings between related nations indicate headway toward the resumption of long-stalled dialogues.

Wu, China’s special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, met with senior U.S. officials Monday, including his U.S. counterpart Glyn Davies and Representative for North Korea Policy, and U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, and had a “productive set of discussions,” according to the U.S. Department of State.

The U.S. State Department said Wu’s two-day visit was a part of “a series of high-level, in-depth U.S.-China discussions on how to achieve our shared goal of a denuclearized North Korea in a peaceful manner.” It said Beijing and Washington “agree on the fundamental importance of a denuclearized North Korea.”

Wu, who made a Washington trip last May, made a rare second visit within half a year on Monday.

Discussing Wu’s visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing yesterday, “China has been working hard to realize the resumption of the six-party talks.”

As Wu negotiated in Washington, North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hyong-jun reportedly arrived in Beijing yesterday and is expected to discuss the return to the talks among China, Russia, the United States, Japan and the two Koreas, which have been suspended since 2008.

South Korea’s top envoy to the talks and representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, Cho Tae-yong, is also scheduled to visit Washington in early November, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A senior foreign affairs official in Seoul said, “China is showing a very proactive stance” regarding the talks.

Wu visited Pyongyang for the first time in two years in August and met with his Russian counterpart Igor Morgulov last week.

The two “exchanged in-depth views on denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula and the resumption of the six-party talks,” according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan made a visit to Beijing in September indicating Pyongyang’s desire to return to talks.

Ju Chul-ki, President Park Geun-hye’s senior secretary for foreign affairs and national security and a seasoned diplomat, said during a forum on North Korea policy in central Seoul yesterday, “We will continue through consistent consultation with related nations to push for the six-party process in order to solve North Korea’s nuclear problem.”

Ju added, however, that Pyongyang is “setting impossible goals while simultaneously possessing nuclear weapons and advancing its economy.”

“Our government is open to dialogue,” Cho Tai-young, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters yesterday.

He added that the dialogue must lead to substantive steps toward North Korea’s denuclearization, a position echoed by National Security Chief Kim Jang-soo and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington last week. He added that Korea and the United States are in close consultation to realize this.

“Wu Dawei is visiting the U.S. and Cho Tae-yong is visiting the U.S. soon,” he said. “This can be an opportunity for even closer negotiations.”

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