News / Asia

S. Korean Nuclear Envoy Cautious About Renewed Diplomacy with North

TEXT SIZE - +

South Korea's chief nuclear envoy says he is not very optimistic about the United States' and South Korea's renewed diplomatic engagement with North Korea.

Wi Sung-lac cautions not to anticipate quick results from the renewed contacts by his government and the United States with North Korea. Neither Seoul nor Washington has official ties with Pyongyang.

“I don’t expect anything coming from New York. It’s just the beginning,” Wi told reporters during a lunch in Seoul Friday. His comment came during a break in the two-day exploratory meeting in the United States between American and North Korean diplomats.

The top North Korean diplomat at those talks, 1st vice foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan, called the first day of talks in New York “constructive and interesting.”

U.S. special envoy Stephen Bosworth is leading the American delegation at the U.S. mission to the United Nations. It is the first face-to-face senior-level meeting between representatives of Washington and Pyongyang in 18 months. The U.S. State Department calls the talks “serious and business-like” and says it looks forward to another session Friday.

The talks come after the first open inter-Korean governmental meeting in more than two-and-a-half years. That took place one week ago (July 22) on the Indonesian resort island of Bali when Wi met with his new North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho, the vice minister of foreign affairs.

Wi says he avoided contentious issues during his meeting with Ri “to build rapport.” But the South Korean diplomat says Ri did not respond positively after he outlined the steps Pyongyang must take for Seoul to agree to a resumption of the six-nation talks about North Korea’s nuclear programs.

Wi says that among the preconditions set by Seoul is a “cessation of (North Korea’s) nuclear activities and the return of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors” to the country.”

Wi adds that despite the resumption of parallel diplomacy by Seoul, Washington and North Korea, the South Korean government is sticking to its so-called “grand bargain approach” towards any deals with Pyongyang. He says there will be no agreement on a “partial, quick fix.”

North Korea walked away from six-way talks with South Korea, China, the United States, Japan and Russia more than two years ago, but last year called for the discussions to resume.

The North also has said it is recommitted to a September 2005 joint statement in which Pyongyang pledged to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and return, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards.

Wi says the fresh pledge from Pyongyang “does not carry much value” because the 2005 document is “vague and abstract.” Wi also did not express much optimism about the ultimate goal of the talks -- the end of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs -- if the multi-lateral process resumes.

“I don’t believe North Korea will easily give up nuclear weapons…but I don’t give up hope,” Wi says. South Korea and its partners “will work together to force North Korea to give up (its nuclear programs).”

North and South Korea have never signed a peace treaty following their devastating three-year conflict in the early 1950's. Tension between the two countries have been on the rise over the past 18 months.

South Korea insists that relations can not improve until Pyongyang apologizes for last year’s sinking of the South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, and an artillery attack on a South Korean frontier island. The two incidents killed 50 people.

North Korea denies one of its torpedoes sank the Cheonan, as an international investigation concluded. It also has called the firing on Yeonpyeong island an act of self-defense in response to provocative South Korean maneuvers in disputed waters.

In June, North Korea disclosed that secret talks had been held with the South the previous month in Beijing.

The disclosure embarrassed the government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak with Pyongyang alleging that Seoul had begged for the talks and offered “enveloped money” in an attempt to arrange a leaders’ summit. The North Korean statement angrily said it would not again deal with Lee’s government.

South Korean diplomat Wi says that declaration further isolated Pyongyang, even from its long-time allies in Beijing. “China is a strong supporter of interaction between the two Koreas,” says Wi.

Asked whether some of the North Korean negotiators from the failed secret talks may have been subsequently executed by their own government, Wi replied that it “seems some of those news reports were true.”


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid