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Kerry: `U.S., China exchange ideas on N. Korea`

Posted February. 17, 2014 07:08,   


As South and North Korea reached agreement at their first high-level talks under the Park Geun-hye admiration on Friday, accelerating the mood of inter-Korean dialogue, attention at home and abroad is focusing on whether “discussions over denuclearization of the North will resume.” Since China has presented a unique method for the North’s denuclearization, it remains to be seen whether the U.S. will accept it or not.

At a press conference at a Beijing Hotel on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. and China made their respective suggestions to accelerate the North’s denuclearization, adding, “Considering the urgency of the matter, we will continue sincere dialogue over the next several days.” Kerry went on to say that “I will report China’s idea to President Barack Obama as soon as I return to the U.S.”

Analysts say that China’s suggestion would include results of a recent visit by the Asian affairs bureau in charge of the Korean Peninsula and the Korean Peninsula affairs office responsible for the six-way talks at the Chinese Foreign Ministry. There is high probability that Beijing checked Pyongyang’s intention first, and developed it into a specific idea, before suggesting it to the U.S.

Junichi Ihara, Japan’s chief negotiator for the six-way talks, will visit South Korea on Tuesday and meet with Korean Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Cho Tae-yong. Many watchers say that the meeting between the chief negotiators of South Korea and Japan for the six-way talks is significant because it is their first meeting convened this year, and that it takes place amid strained ties between South Korea and Japan in recent years. At the meeting, Japan is also expected to give briefing on secretive contacts between Pyongyang and Tokyo that allegedly take place in a third country. At a joint press conference with Kerry on Saturday, South Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Yun Byung-se warned Japan, “If North Korea-Japan contacts take place without adequate consultations (with South Korea), it will not be very beneficial for cooperation between parties to the six-way talks.”

The South Korean government is wary of premature optimism that the mood of inter-Korean dialogue in recent months will directly lead to resumption of six-way talks. Notably, the North is hardly in a position to hold sincere and in-depth talks with the U.S., as Pyongyang has yet to release Korean American Kenneth Bae, who remains detained in the North. The U.S. distrust in North Korea even more deepened recently because Pyongyang twice requested visit by Robert King, Washington’s special envoy for North Korea’s human rights, only to cancel right before actual visit. A Seoul government source said, “There is strong recognition that Washington has been cheated by Pyongyang regarding the nuclear issue as well.”