Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

North Korea Hot for Nuclear Talks and Asian Games, Not Human Rights

Posted by K.E. White on November 28, 2006

Six-Party Talks Back On!

Christopher Hill and Kim Kye-gwan

WaPo’s Benjamin Kang Lim reports on North Korea’s return

to the negotiating table– in the form of six-party talks.

Lim shows sheds light on yesterday’s diplomatic shuffle in Beijing. North Korean official Kim Kye-gwan met with the chief North Korean diplomat Christopher Hill, South Korea’s
nuclear envoy Chun Yung-woo, Japan’s envoy Kenichiro Sasae, and China’s Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei.

The U.S. has refused to entertain North Korean calls for bilateral talks between the two nations,
favoring instead the six party framework that brings together North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

North Korea’s recent testing of a nuclear weapon provoked harsh reactions from the international community, including China, and saw intensified pressure for North Korea’s return to the six-party talks.

But while Lim caved to these demands yesterday, he made sure to employ two face-saving measures–one hard, one soft.

China Daily showcases a sympathetic portrayal—big shock! In it we see it was always North Korea’s intent to return to six-party talks, but only after it could do so from a “dignified position”:

Kim said the timing “depends on the United States.”

“There are too many outstanding issues” and both parties should narrow their differences, Kim told reporters on arrival at the airport.

“I said on October 31 that we can enter the talks at any time,” he
said. “I said that because we can do that from a dignified position as we
have taken defensive measures through our nuclear test to counter sanctions and
pressure against us.”

This flurry of activity comes near ASEAN (a group of ten South East Nations that includes Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines) putting its diplomatic weight behind returning North Korea to the negotiating table.

Asian Games

This diplomatic thawing comes on the heels of the Asian Games, an-all Asian nation Olympics.

The games open this Friday in Doha, Qatar.

The sporting competition is hoped to warm chilled relations between the two
Korean nations.

From the International Herald Tribune:

Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, said it would be the eighth time the Koreas have marched together at an international sports event.

The two countries will not be competing together, however.

South Korea’s 830-member delegation, most of which was to arrive on Wednesday, is hoping to win 70-75 golds, while the North is setting its sights on a much more humble goal of about 10 gold medals. The North is expected to participate in 16 events.

Kim Jang San, the North Korean delegation chief, said the North is hoping to win medals in boxing
and the Korean martial art of taekwondo.

Perhaps this good-will diplomacy will push some good-will into the contentious six party talks.

U.N. Flags DPRK’s Human Rights Record

This diplomatic activity also comes after an embarrassing United Nations
resolution on North Korea’s poor human rights record. Amnesty
International reports
:

On 17 November, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly adopted its second resolution condemning North Korea‘s record on human rights with a vote of 91 in favour of the resolution, 21 against and 60 abstentions. The resolution contains tougher language than the earlier resolution adopted in November 2005. It also requests the UN Secretary General (the SG designate is Ban Ki-moon, former South Korean Foreign Minister) to submit a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in North Korea.

The press release brings attention to North Korea’s continuing food

crisis, rampant child malnutrition, executions of political opponents, use of
torture, and restrictions of free speech.

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