News / Asia

Seoul Takes Cautious Approach with North Korea

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sunghwan (L) meets North Korean counterpart Park Uichoon at ARF July 23, 2011
South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sunghwan (L) meets North Korean counterpart Park Uichoon at ARF July 23, 2011

International diplomacy appears to be paving the way for Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table. In Seoul, officials are taking a cautious approach following discussions with the North Koreans last Friday at a regional forum in Indonesia.

First inter-Korean meeting in 31 months

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan is dampening optimism about any significant breakthrough that may follow the first non-secret inter-Korean meeting at the government level in 31 months.

Speaking Monday on a radio program (on YTN News FM) in Seoul, Kim says the North-South diplomatic encounter on the sidelines of the ASEAN forum in Indonesia should not raise expectations of immediate progress in relations.

He says the Bali talks last Friday do, however, play a “catalytic” role for inter-Korean relations.

Immediately after that surprise meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Kim Kye-gwan, has been invited to New York.

Aiming towards six-party talks

Kim Yong-hyun, a specialist in North Korean affairs at Dongguk University in Seoul, says the diplomacy in Bali appears to be setting the stage for a resumption of nuclear disarmament talks that collapsed in 2008.

Kim says the discussions in Bali were a step toward getting the six-party talks back on track. Another analyst, however, sees this as a reverse step. Balbina Hwang is a regional security specialist who is a visiting professor at both Georgetown University and the National Defense University in Washington.

“Clearly they are falling back on the previous model that was set up and never completed. I don't see any reason why they have to fall back to that model," Hwang stated. "But I think it goes to show that there is a sort of a lack of creativity, but beyond that, a lack of really initiative or any kind of leadership in either Seoul or Washington to make any real breakthrough with North Korea.”

Besides the two Koreas and the United States, the six-party talks also included China, Russia and Japan.

Apology as a pre-requisite

Since the collapse of the last round, North Korea conducted a second nuclear weapons test and unveiled what it said was a uranium enrichment facility that could give it another method to produce atomic bombs.

Hwang says even if there is a resumption of the six-way negotiations, there is little likelihood they will result in anything significant.

“Everybody is treating this as if 'wow, we have a major breakthrough if everybody can get together and the six-party talks resume.' There's absolutely no indication that Pyongyang is willing to give up anything. There's also no indication to me that Washington and Seoul are willing to relent on any of their firm positions either. If talks restart they restart. But to me that's not particularly important," Hwang said.

In a Monday editorial, South Korea’s Joong Ang Daily newspaper argued that despite the failure of the previous talks, there is no other international forum that could “peacefully convince North Korea to dismantle its weapons programs.”

Since the six-way talks broke down, tension between the two Koreas has increased. Seoul and others blame Pyongyang for the sinking of a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea in 2010. North Korea also launched an artillery attack on a South Korean island in the same waters last year.

Seoul has repeatedly stated that an apology for the provocations is a pre-requisite to any improvement in cross-border ties.

South Korea’s foreign minister said Monday the government remains firm that North Korea must take what he called responsible steps in the wake of the actions last year, which resulted in the deaths of 50 South Koreans. But officials say the lack of an apology from the North -- which they concede is unlikely to be forthcoming -- is not going to block the South's consent to revived international diplomacy with so much at stake.

The two Koreas technically remain in a state of war since their devastating three year civil conflict of the early 1950’s ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs