News / USA

Kerry Traveling to South Korea and China for Talks on North Korea

Kerry Traveling to South Korea and China for Talks on North Koreai
X
February 11, 2014 3:25 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leaves Wednesday for South Korea and China where he will meet with officials about containing North Korea's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports.
Kerry Traveling to South Korea and China for Talks on North Korea
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leaves Wednesday for South Korea and China, where he will meet with officials about containing North Korea's nuclear program. The Obama administration also is working to secure the release of U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, who is being held in a North Korean labor camp.
 
U.S. officials continue to push North Korea to release Kenneth Bae, an American missionary. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of plotting to overthrow the government. If China can help with that release, Secretary Kerry is willing to try, said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.
 
"Of course the Chinese enjoy a special relationship with the North Korean government that has proved helpful in pushing some of our mutual goals, whether its denuclearization of the peninsula, getting North Korea to stop taking provocative actions. Certainly if there could be a role, I'm sure we would be happy to have that conversation," said Harf.
 
The standoff shows that Washington knows little about what's going on in Pyongyang, especially since the rise of Kim Jong Un, said American University professor Lou Goodman.
 
"I don't think there's real knowledge about what the agenda is of this new regime, how they see themselves. There isn't knowledge about who has contacts, who doesn't have contacts," said Goodman.
 
China, as North Korea's principal contact, is working to improve dialogue with Pyongyang, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.
 
"The overall situation on the Korean peninsula at present is quite fragile. We hope all sides can exercise restraint and not take steps to provoke each other," said Lei.
 
However, the United States should not count on China for a breakthrough with North Korea, said American Enterprise Institute analyst Michael Auslin.
 
"The U.S. hasn't been coming up with any new initiatives and certainly no one through the entire process has come up with new initiatives other than China, which is essentially to keep giving the North Koreans time," said Auslin.
 
North Korea has used that time to rebuild its nuclear program. The United States has said it will not resume talks with Pyongyang until it agrees to restart nuclear inspections. Assistant Secretary for East Asian Affairs Danny Russel stressed the importance of any talks being grounded in a real chance for progress.
 
"Talks for talk’s sake are not the path to verifiable denuclearization. It’s essential that North Korea participate as a serious negotiating partner," said Russel.
 
It's not at all clear that North Korea is ready for that.
 
"Leaders of small states, when they are pressured, can feel they're in a corner and commit hari kari. And I think China fears that," said American University’s Goodman.
 
That makes avoiding confrontation important to both China and the United States.
 
"China wants the status quo because it's helpful for their policy to have the U.S. off-balance and consumed with dealing with North Korea. The U.S. wants the status quo because, quite frankly, during a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan we didn't and couldn't have dealt with something changing on the peninsula," said Auslin.
 
In Seoul, Kerry also hopes to ease tensions between South Korea and Japan over disputed islands that may contain large deposits of natural gas.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs