News / Asia

    S. Korean Nuclear Envoy Cautious About Renewed Diplomacy with North

    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

    Steve Herman is VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora