S.Korea urges North’s worries to be met at talks
By Jon Herskovitz
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea can only be persuaded to
abandon its nuclear ambitions if partners in multilateral talks
due to resume in late July address the state’s motivations and
the potential impact on its stability, Seoul said on Monday.
The comments by South Korea’s top negotiator to the
six-party came after the United States said on Sunday that the
talks — the fourth round in two years and the first after a
break of over a year — must show progress this time around.
North Korea said on Saturday it had agreed to return to the
talks that include South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the
United States in the week of July 25.
“The most important thing is North Korea giving up its
nuclear development, but there are motives and reasons why the
North wants to have nuclear programs,” Deputy Foreign Minister
Song Min-soon said on a KBS radio program on Monday.
Song also said the regional powers at the talks needed to
take into consideration how any deal would impact on the
North’s economic and political stability.
North Korea said in February it possessed nuclear weapons.
Analysts have said that the communist state sees the
weapons as a deterrent against the United States, one that
gives the impoverished nation of 22.5 million some
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who met Chinese
leaders in Beijing at the weekend, said sitting down to talks
after a break of more than a year was just a first step.
“The real issue now is to make progress,” she said.
Rice told Fox Television News that Pyongyang had a “bar” to
pass, and Washington and its partners “should not spend too
much time celebrating” because there was much hard work ahead.
POTENTIAL BLOW TO SIX-PARTY PROCESS
Senior South Korean officials including the unification,
foreign and defense ministers, met for a strategy session ahead
of a rare national security council meeting chaired by
President Roh Moo-hyun planned for Tuesday.
“We agreed at today’s meeting that this round of six-party
talks must have results that can win international credibility,
that the countries have entered a phase of substantive
negotiations,” a statement released after the meeting said.
The statement echoed concerns raised by some analysts that
another failure to accomplish substantive progress at the new
round could deal a serious blow to the six-party process.
South Korean newspaper editorials said Pyongyang must
follow its decision by making real progress at the negotiating
But they also said there was a danger the North may try to
steer the talks away from its nuclear arms programs by focusing
negotiations instead on general disarmament.
The North said in March the talks should be turned into
disarmament discussions where it is treated like a member of
the nuclear weapons club, on par with Washington.
There has been little progress to show after three rounds
of the talks. The last round was held in June 2004 in Beijing.
“It is highly likely that the North, which has declared its
possession of nuclear weapons, will play the ‘disarmament
talks’ card,” the centrist daily JoongAng Ilbo said in an
Japan said it was ready to work with Washington and Seoul
to coordinate policies before the next round of talks.
Japan’s top government spokesman, Hiroyuki Hosoda, also
told reporters on Monday that Tokyo wanted to bring up at the
talks the issue of its citizens abducted decades ago by North
Korea. Seoul’s Song urged Tokyo to drop that proposal, saying
the talks should focus only on ending North Korea’s nuclear
(Additional reporting by Jack Kim in SEOUL and Teruaki Ueno