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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs