North Korea's leader has apparently told a senior Chinese envoy he is
willing to resume talks to resolve the issue of Pyongyang's nuclear
China's Xinhua news agency says North Korean leader Kim
Jong Il promises to work toward making the Korean peninsula free of
nuclear weapons. Mr. Kim also is willing to engage in what the report
describes as "bilateral or multilateral talks" to help push that goal
Those comments, if accurate, would be the first
explicit sign in months that North Korea is willing to resume diplomacy
aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs. Mr. Kim reportedly made
them to senior Chinese envoys visiting Pyongyang.
A North Korean
state broadcaster says Mr. Kim met with Dai Bingguo, an envoy of
Chinese Premier Hu Jintao. They held talks in a "cordial atmosphere"
about continuing the North Korea-China friendship.
to six-nation nuclear talks, Wu Dawei, also attended the meeting. The
often-stalled six-nation talks also involve the United States, South
Korea, Japan, and Russia. Earlier this year, North Korea declared the
six-party process "useless" and over with. It conducted its second
nuclear test in May.
South Korean officials caution against
interpreting Mr. Kim's reported comments as a signal the North is ready
to come back to the talks. The South's foreign minister, Yu
Myung-hwan, told business leaders in Seoul Friday that Pyongyang has
Yu says now that North Korea possesses nuclear
weapons, Pyongyang intends to have U.S.-North Korea arms reduction
talks, which the U.S. cannot accept.
Washington has ruled out
such arms reduction talks, which would implicitly recognize North Korea
as a nuclear weapons state. The United States and its regional
partners say they will accept nothing less than a complete and
verifiable end to North Korea's nuclear arms capabilities.
Obama's administration has expressed willingness to talk to North Korea
one-on-one, but only in a context that is directly connected to the
North Korea analysts here in the South Korean
capital find it significant that Mr. Kim's reported comments come
during a visit from China. Beijing is the North's only significant
ally, and provides a lifeline of food, fuel, and resources to its
Hong Hyun-ik is a North Korea researcher at the Sejong Institute in Seoul.
says China felt the need to stop the North's nuclear activities from
getting out of hand. He says Beijing also does not want to be isolated
from any one-on-one diplomatic arrangement between North Korea and the
United States. So, China sent its envoy, says Hong, to remind Kim Jong
Il how crucial it is to the North's economic fate.