News / Asia

US to Hold 'Exploratory' Talks With North Korea in New York

Kim Kye Gwan, first vice foreign minister of North Korea, arrives at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, July 26, 2011
Kim Kye Gwan, first vice foreign minister of North Korea, arrives at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, July 26, 2011

Senior U.S. and North Korean Diplomats meet in New York Thursday for what the State Department calls “exploratory” talks on Pyongyang’s willingness to resume negotiations over its nuclear program. The talks follow a meeting between North and South Korean negotiators last week on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Bali, Indonesia. .

The meetings at the U.S. mission to the United Nations are expected to extend into Friday, and the Obama administration says it will use the “exploratory talks” to determine if Pyongyang is serious about living up to nuclear obligations.

North Korea agreed in principle in 2005 to scrap its nuclear program, including a presumed small arsenal of nuclear weapons, in return for aid and diplomatic benefits from other countries in Chinese sponsored six-party negotiations.

But the negotiations broke off in 2008 and relations between Pyongyang and Seoul spiraled downward last year amid North Korea’s alleged sinking of a South Korean warship and shelling of a South Korean island.

The United States issued an invitation for the New York meeting after nuclear negotiators of the two Koreas had what both sides said was a constructive meeting in Bali.

State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner says the New York meeting is a logical next step.

“We’ve said very clearly for a long time that we were first looking for improved dialogue between north and south," said Toner. "That was one of the initial steps that we wanted to see take place, and in fact when that meeting did take place in Bali, it was a constructive meeting. And so we felt that the logical next step was to have this exploratory meeting, before we take any more steps, to judge how North Korea is approaching this.”

Toner said U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth will lead an inter-agency team at the New York meeting.

The North Korea side will be led by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kae-Gwan. It will be the highest-level U.S.-North Korean encounter since a Pyongyang visit by Bosworth at the end of 2009.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said late last week in Bali the meeting will probe whether Pyongyang is ready to take “concrete and irreversible” steps toward de-nuclearization.

She said while open to talks, the United States does not intend to reward the north for returning to the table and it cannot expect new benefits for steps it has already agreed to take.

Korea policy experts in Washington say the engagement with North Korea, while worthwhile, is unlikely to yield a breakthrough such as an early resumption of the six-party talks.

Bruce Klingner, Senior Research Fellow for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, says refusing to talk to Pyongyang would be naïve, though it may have no intention of giving up its nuclear program.

“There are very few experts who actually believe that and I’m very skeptical," said Klingner. "In a way, if you think of it from North Korea’s point of view, it wouldn’t make sense to give up their nuclear weapons because it not only provides some military benefits, but in a way it make them relevant. Without nuclear  weapons, it would be easier to ignore North Korea.”

Nonetheless Klingner, a former U.S. intelligence official, said a combination of incentives and sanctions might still change Pyongyang’s mindset and “cost-benefit analysis” about the nuclear program.

Klingner’s sense of caution about the New York talks is shared by Jonathan Pollack, a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at the Brookings Institution, who says there is no evidence Pyongyang feels compelled to bargain away its nuclear program.

The Brookings expert says North Korea may still entertain hope that it can have a direct dialogue with the United States at the expense of South Korea while deferring disarmament steps. If that is the case, Pollack says, it will come away disappointed.  

“The North Koreans are trying to see if yet again, they can reach some kind of agreement with the United States that defers consideration of the status of their programs," said Pollack. "I would anticipate in this context that they may broach yet again the idea of a peace agreement with the United States to replace the [1953 Korean War] armistice. But this is something that the U.S. is not going to entertain as a stand-alone action apart from South Korea. We simply will not.”

State Department Spokesman Toner stressed repeatedly Wednesday that the U.S. side will closely coordinate its approach with South Korea. He said North Korea’s pending request for new U.S. food aid is not part of the New York agenda.

The North Korean nuclear issue: 1985 - 2011

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
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