Trilateral meeting for 6-party parley

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Trilateral meeting for 6-party parley

As China pushes for a return to the stalled six-party talks, the United States, Japan and South Korea are scheduled to hold a high-level trilateral meeting on Wednesday in Washington to discuss a response to North Korea and its nuclear program.

On Wednesday, the chief Korean envoy for the six-party talks, Cho Tae-yong, will meet with his Japanese and U.S. counterparts, Junichi Ihara, director-general of Asian and Oceanian Affairs, and Glyn Davies, special representative for North Korea policy.

Jen Psaki, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, said on Friday at a press briefing that the trilateral discussions will “reflect the close cooperation among our three countries and our continued focus on pursuing verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Cho, also the special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, departed for Washington yesterday, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said he will make a five-day trip “to meet with special representative Glyn Davies and other U.S. officials and discuss North Korea, its nuclear issue and various matters and how to deal with them.” Cho is expected to visit Beijing after he wraps his Washington trip Thursday.

This follows China’s chief envoy for the six-party talks Wu Dawei’s Washington visit last week, where he also met with Davies and other U.S. officials to discuss a speedy return to six-party talks. The talks among China, Russia, the United States, Japan and the two Koreas, have been suspended since late 2008, and celebrate their 10th anniversary this year.

Wu, special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, told reporters after meetings on Wednesday that he is “confident of a restart of the six-party talks.”

Wu made a rare second visit in half a year to Washington, following a May trip, indicating Beijing’s activeness toward the issue.

But the United States reiterated its stance has not changed on North Korea.

“They need to take steps, including abiding by the [September 2005 joint statement],” said Psaki on Friday, in reference to the 2005 statement in which North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program and return to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. “They need to take steps to reassure the international community. Those steps, obviously, haven’t been taken.”

But she also pointed out that the United States is “working to coordinate with our international partners,” as evinced by the coming trilateral meeting with Seoul and Tokyo.

North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hyong-jun made a Beijing visit last week to meet with officials there, coinciding with Wu’s visit to Washington. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that he met with Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui and discussed China and North Korea relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim’s trip followed a string of visits by high-ranking North Korean officials to China over the past few months, including Kim Kye-gwan, senior vice minister of foreign affairs, and Ri Yong-ho, North Korea’s chief envoy on the six-party talks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to make a two-day visit to Seoul, starting Nov. 12, for a summit with President Park Geun-hye.

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

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