N. Korea Pledges Return to Nuke Talks

26 08 2011

 (Russia Today TV 24 Aug. 2011) North Korea is ready to return to the Six-Party negotiation table unconditionally and to do so, Kim Jong-il promised his country will impose moratorium on nuclear testing and nuclear weapons production. Presidential Press Secretary Natalia Timakova announced these results of the meeting on Wednesday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his North Korean counterpart have met in the secluded military compound Sosnovy Bor (Pine Wood) on the outskirts of the capital of Republic of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude. The talks lasted for two hours and ten minutes.The leaders shook hands for protocol photos in the presence of press, then proceeded to negotiate behind closed doors. Few results were announced once the negotiations were over, including little information about the topics of discussion.

Surely, tense topics have been discussed during the meeting. Most likely the talks were focused on Six-Party Talks: North Korea withdrew from the Six-Party Talks (which include North and South Koreas, Russia, China, US and Japan) and continued with its nuclear experiments, defiant in its continuation of its nuclear program, predictably causing outrage not only within the Six Parties, but the whole of the international community.

The leaders reportedly agreed also to work together on a trilateral gas-supply project involving South Korea. President Medvedev announced he has set up a governmental committee which is to deal with this gas pipe-line transit project. He also assigned Alexey Miller, the head of Russia’s Gazprom, to “closely deal” with his counterparts in North and South Korea. The gas transit through the territory of DPRK is a very perspective project for the South Korean consumers, and for North Korea as well, Dmitry Medvedev stated after his meeting with Kim Jong-il. The project plans to cover an estimated 1,100 kilometers of pipelines and will have a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters of gas a year. […]

­Eric Sirotkin, a co-founder of the National Campaign to End the Korean War, says Russia is in the perfect position to play a mediator role between North and South Korea. “Because of [Russia’s] closer relationship with the United States over the past years, because of the fact they are not seen as allied with North Korea as China,” he said. “Someone has to, as a world leader, stand up and say ‘This war has gone on for 60 years. There has been a change. The Cold War has ended, folks.’”

The fact that after nearly 10 years the leader of reclusive North Korea visits Russia and meets President Medvedev can only mean that something is changing – either inside North Korea or in Russia’s relation with it, considers Leonid Petrov, a lecturer in Korean Studies at the University of Sydney. The problem now is that North Korea has expressed a readiness to return to negotiating table and exchange something – probably its nuclear program – for some sort of aid, whereas the other parties of the Six-Side talks are reluctant to do so. “Probably it is time to restore balance between North Korea’s relations with Russia and China,” Petrov believes. In any case, “for Kim-Jong-il this is a good PR exercise to make sure that people still believe him,” Petrov said.



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