International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

June 29, 2004

June 29, 2004





**  The "significant, detailed overture" to the DPRK is a "U-turn" in American policy.


**  Both Pyongyang and Washington must make "necessary concessions."


**  Chinese dailies maintain "few expectations for sensational results." 


**  North Korea is "gambling" that a new U.S. administration will be less "hardline." 




The U.S. 'subtly changed its hard-line policy'--  Euro and Asian observers praised the "reasonable" proposal advanced by the U.S. as its "first serious concession" since President Bush took office.  The "concrete roadmap toward defusing the nuclear tension" is a "step backward" from the U.S.' "previously hard-line stance"; Seoul's independent Joong-Ang Ilbo held it heightens "expectations for a breakthrough."  Singapore's pro-government Straits Times added that the U.S. "appears more prepared to deal than ever."  Chinese papers concluded that its "suddenly softer attitude" proves that the U.S. is "eager to make a breakthrough."   


The U.S. and the North must show 'sincerity and flexibility'--  Some Japanese and ROK dailies blamed Pyongyang and Washington equally for the deadlock, urging the U.S. to end its "high-handed manner" and castigating the North for its "nuclear ambitions."  Liberal papers such as Tokyo's Asahi said the "U.S. holds the key to defusing nuclear tension"; China Daily added it is "unfair for the U.S. to unilaterally blame the DPRK."  Rightist papers blasted the DPRK's "straight-out nuclear blackmail."  Seoul's Dong-A Ilbo judged the "key lies in North Korea's hands" and Japan's Sankei sought "concerted pressure" on the North.


'Prospects are not bright'--  Chinese and leftist outlets warned against "high expectations" for a quick solution, instead forecasting a "long and difficult process."  Macau Daily News judged it "unrealistic" that the issue "can be settled within a short period"; South Korea's Hankyoreh Shinmun agreed that the talks' outcome was "very disappointing."  But official Chinese papers were careful to stress China's roles as "host country and major mediator" and its "active contributions" to the negotiations.  China Youth Daily noted that "promoting the Six-Party Talks" was an "important and meaningful achievement for China."


'A Democratic President may be more conciliatory'--  Global editorialists opined that the North is "hoping that the Democrats take power and change Bush's tough policy"; Seoul's conservative Chosun Ilbo agreed that Pyongyang is "waiting for a change of government in the U.S."  Other papers instead saw "electoral cynicism" in Washington.  The U.S. demands are "directed more to the...election campaign than to a breakthrough at the negotiating table" according to Germany's center-right Theuringer Allgemeine.  These writers concluded the U.S. hopes the talks with the North "will have positive impacts" on the election.


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 46 reports from 10 countries over 17 - 29 June 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




CHINA:  "Three Rounds Of Six-Party Talks Have Concluded; Way Forward Found On DPRK Nuclear Issue"


Zhou Ning commented in official Communist Party-run international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (6/28):  "The way the Six-Party Talks developed is itself one of the reasons that the talks could reach a certain fruition.  The first round was direct confrontation; the second round started to touch on substantial issues.  During the third round, the two sides were clear about the opposite’s cards and it became necessary to offer specific plans and compromises....  Some people pointed out that the more frequent diplomatic contacts made the DPRK and the U.S. aware of the fierce desires of the international community.  This helped them to make more objective judgments and decisions....  The plans that the U.S. and DPRK delivered separately contain a lot of complicated information, and both require the opposite side’s serious contemplation....  During the talks, the Chinese delegation played the roles of host country and major mediator.  On the one hand, it ‘reconciled’ the conflict, sticking to the general direction of peaceful resolution and pushing different parties to seek common points while reserving differences; on the other hand, it ‘promoted’ further talks."


"Next Talks Likely To Be Held In September"


Hu Xiao stated in the official English-language China Daily (6/28):  "It will be a busy rather than a long summer vacation for the delegates of the six parties participating in the talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.  That's because they have decided to hold their next round of negotiations by the end of September....  Since the talks first began last year, it is the first time that the U.S. and DPRK put forth specific plans for solutions to the issue and clearly expressed their willingness to further study one another's proposals....  The DPRK expressed willingness to give up all nuclear weapon-related programmes in a 'transparent' way, and offered specific plans on freezing its programme for the first time....  Negotiations are a complicated and difficult process, which requires wisdom, patience and give-and-take determination....  It is unfair for the U.S. to unilaterally blame the DPRK....  Despite the differences, an irreversible process was in motion."


"Third Round Of Six-Party Talks Enters A Deeper Stage, Conditions Ripe For An Agreement"


Shi Hongtao commented in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (6/25):  “The U.S.’ hardline stance...caused many observers to believe that the talks would not be able reach any achievement....  However, since the U.S. put forth this new plan, they have changed their views, thinking that the suddenly softer attitude of the U.S. proves that its previous toughness was just a U.S. tactic.  It also proves that the Bush Administration is eager to make a breakthrough on the nuclear issue.  Analysts think that the DPRK may not respond to the new plan quickly.  Then need to report it to a higher level and to study it.  However, ultimately the U.S.’ latest position has broken the standoff and promoted progress at the talks.  Different from the previous two rounds of talks, neither the U.S. nor the DPRK issued stern and tough comments during the talks and expressed more willingness to listen.  This shows that the two sides prepared well for the talks and that their positions are growing closer.  Some experts even predicted with optimism that the fog of war above the Korean Peninsula might start to fall away.”


"New U.S. Plan Can’t Bridge U.S.-DPRK Divide"


Shi Hongtao observed in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (6/24):  “If the new U.S. plan really shows that the U.S. wants to change its tough stance and make efforts to promote the course of the dialogue, then this would be good news for the talks.  However, analysts do not hold high expectations about the U.S. new plan.  The U.S. request that the DPRK first scrap its nuclear plans hasn’t changed, yet the DPRK has asked for a simultaneous and equitable agreement with the U.S....  The U.S. offer of increased compensation is not high enough to make the DPRK discard its nukes first.  What the DPRK needs most is a U.S. security guarantee....  American scholars are dissatisfied with Bush’s DPRK policy....  Although China has been actively intervening into the U.S.-DPRK nuclear standoff, it already is gradually losing patience because of the U.S. attitude of not giving any leeway at all.”


"Concessions Necessary For Progress In Talks"


Wu Yixue held in the official English-language China Daily (6/23):  “The third round of six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear impasse opened in Beijing yesterday.  What--if any--progress will be made during this session remains a big question.  The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the U.S. are divided on key issues, such as the DPRK security concerns, whether its nuclear programs should be dismantled or frozen, and the question of compensation....  Still, the fact the negotiations have reached a third round signals the willingness and sincerity of the countries concerned to solve the problem through peaceful talks rather than resorting to force.  Given the deep-rooted mistrust between DPRK and the U.S., agreeing to sit for face-to-face talks is undoubtedly encouraging because it indicates they rule out the use of force to settle their dispute.  China has made and will continue to make active contributions to help solve the issue....  China will participate in the talks with the aim of establishing steadfast goals, consolidating achievements, actively mediating and steadily advancing.  That means China will continue to adhere to its consistent position that the Korean Peninsula should be nuclear-free and the path to this end should be peaceful....  Pyongyang insists on a non-aggression pact with Washington before announcing its abandonment of the program. Washington insists the DPRK should first promise to give up its nuclear program before it can get a kind of security guarantee.  Without concessions from the two sides there will be no progress.  Attaining a positive resolution relies on wisdom and necessary concessions. Hopefully, the negotiators will not let this opportunity slip away.”


“Why Is China Spending So Much Effort To Promote The Six-Party Talks”


Xin Benjian contended in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (6/23):  “First, promoting the Six-Party Talks will help to maintain Northeast Asia’s regional security....  The DPRK nuclear crisis presents three threats: first, escalating a regional arms race; second, causing a ‘nuclear domino effect’; third, increasing the possibility that the DPRK fires an accidental shot.  Second, promoting the Six-Party Talks will help China to improve its general border security....  Third, promoting the Six-Party Talks helps China create the image of a responsible big country....  The smooth commencement of the third round of Talks is itself an important and meaningful achievement for China.  That the talks are continuing proves that the ‘peaceful train’ of the DPRK nuclear issue is plowing ahead....  China’s travails and achievements will be recorded in history.”


"Progress Expected From Nuclear Talks"


Meng Yan maintained in the official English-language China Daily (6/23):  “China will stick to its position and try to promote dialogue.  China expects all parties, especially the major parties, to show their sincerity and flexibility and find a reasonable solution acceptable to all as soon as possible....  The six parties have taken three major steps so far....  The goal of building a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula has been established.  The DPRK has explicitly expressed its willingness to abandon its nuclear programs and proposed freezing nuclear facilities as the first step....  All other parties have been committed to solving the reasonable security concerns of the DPRK....  On the basis of the first working group meeting last month, the parties have continued exchanging in-depth views on building a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula and freezing nuclear facilities, as well as corresponding measures....  The Chinese delegation will participate in the third round of talks with the unwavering goals of building a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula, peacefully solving the issue through dialogue and firm determination to safeguard the peace and stability of the peninsula....  China will consolidate the hard-won consensus among the parties in previous talks, conduct active mediation and promote progress in a stable way....  The talks have started focusing on substantial issues and have entered the most difficult stage.”


"The Six-Party Talks Are Getting Deeper And More Difficult"


Shi Hongtao commented in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (6/22):  “Experts think, at the moment, the three core issues of the DPRK nuclear issue are the principle of DPRK scrapping nuclear plan, exchanging assistance with freezing its nuclear development and whether or not DPRK has possessed enriched uranium.  People commonly think that, the crux of the DPRK nuclear issue is, the U.S. insists that it will not discuss issues of economic assistance unless DPRK complies with CVID principle.  However, DPRK intends to ‘partially freeze its nuclear development,’ it wants to gradually give up nuclear plan till it totally give it up after it has gained the economic assistance of the U.S. and its allies.  On the divergence of the U.S. and DPRK, China has called for the mutual compromises with creative posture from both sides for many times.  The third round of Six-Party Talks will test the attitude and determination of the U.S. and DPRK.”


"The Third Round Of The Six-Party Talks"


Zhang Xinghui concluded in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (6/20):  “The U.S. government has worked out three principles for the third round of the Six-Party Talks:  first, the U.S. doesn’t oppose bilateral talks between the Japan and ROK with the DPRK but it also refused to make any commitment.  Second, it intends to urge the DPRK to publicize its enriched uranium plans and urge that all of the DPRK’s nuclear plans should be under IAEA supervision.  Third, it won’t change its CVID policy....  It is obvious that it will be difficult to make any breakthrough at the third round of the Six-Party Talks.  The Bush Administration is busy with the Iraqi power transfer on June 30 and the presidential elections in October.  It has no spare time to treat the DPRK nuclear issue with caution.  Meanwhile on the DPRK side, it is watching the U.S. presidential elections, hoping that the Democrats take power and change Bush’s tough policy.”


"Six-Party Talks Enter Period Of Mounting Difficulties"


Wen Xian noted in official People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao) (6/20):  “If the previous two rounds of the Six-Party Talks aimed at building a platform and establishing rules, then the third round of talks should surely enter the phase of discussing core issues....  After two rounds of talks, the two sides’ [the U.S. and DPRK] agreement to take the DPRK’s freezing the development of its nuclear plans as the first step to finally scrapping its nuclear plans was actually a key point to solving the nuclear issue.  The next issue following the DPRK’s nuclear freeze is in the specific measures.  What are the measures in political, economic and security terms?  All of these practical issues requiring high operational abilities demand an answer in the third round of talks.  Thus the talks have aroused people’s great interest.  But people should not hold high expectations.  Historical rancor, practical conflict, different security strategies and plus the influence of the U.S. presidential election all determine that the DPRK nuclear issues is a long and difficult process with the possibility of several ups and downs.  Thus people will have few expectations for ‘sensational results’ but rather more sobriety about the third round of talks.”


CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):  "Six-party Talks Are Making Progress"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (6/25):  "With the objective of removing nuclear weapons in the Korean peninsula, the third round of the six-party talks has entered the third day.  It seems that this round of talks are progressing smoothly.  The atmosphere in the first two days is good, which is much better than expected....  Due to the low popularity of the Bush administration, one of Bush's considerations is to gain some marks in the six-party talks.  The U.S. may show more flexibility in the talks to obtain achievements.  The U.S. hopes that the DPRK can give a reply within three to five months.  We can see that Bush hopes the talks will have positive impacts on the November presidential election.  However, the Bush administration is busy with the transfer of the sovereignty in Iraq, and it is unlikely that they will concentrate on dealing with the DPRK nuclear issue.  From this angle, it is unrealistic to expect that the DPRK nuclear issue can be settled within a short period of time."


"Step Up The Momentum On North Korea Talks"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post asserted (6/22):  "If negotiators feel some pressure going into this week's six-way talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, there is good reason.  The talks are likely to be the last chance to conclude a deal between now and early next year, while the price of failure is higher than it has been for the past two rounds of talks.  As the U.S. moves into the last months of campaigning before the presidential poll, there will soon be little appetite for serious negotiations until a president is sworn in at the end of January.  North Korea and Kim Jong-il are just as likely to stall, in the hope they will be face to face with challenger John Kerry when talks resume, rather than hard-nosed incumbent George W. Bush, who up to now has conceded little and refused to take part in two-way talks....  But an agreement that brings inspectors to Yongbyon and other facilities, leaves North Korea with no nuclear fuel programs, provides economic aid and energy supplies--and gives Mr. Kim a security guarantee from Russia, Japan, South Korea, China and the U.S.--would certainly meet the requirements.  Such a deal has been suggested by South Korea and received a nod from the U.S., while the North has issued a proposal of its own just days before the talks are to start.  There are still significant differences to be bridged-including lack of agreement on the existence of a uranium program--but there are small signs of momentum not found in the last two talks.  Failure to take advantage and strike a deal now would mean that negotiations will go into hiatus until early next year."


JAPAN:  "Six-Party Nations Need To Work On Details of North Korean Nuclear Freeze"


Liberal Asahi editorialized (6/27):  "We welcome efforts by the six nations in the deadlocked multilateral talks on North Korea's nuclear standoff.  Specific proposals by the U.S. on Pyongyang's future dismantlement of its nuclear development programs helped produce progress during the talks.  However, serious challenges lie ahead for the six nations.  They need to work closely and vigorously on details of future procedures for a North Korean nuclear freeze in order to create a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula."


"Nuclear Development By North Korea Should Not Be Overlooked"


Top-circulation moderate Yomiuri noted (6/27):  "The six nations failed to produce substantial results during their talks in Beijing last week.  It is very difficult for members of the six-party talks to make real progress unless North Korea accepts a complete dismantlement of its nuclear development programs.  The threat to world peace is likely to increase if the international community overlooks Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development.  The nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula needs to be discussed at the UNSC and the global community might need to impose economic sanctions on the North if Pyongyang fails to completely abolish its nuclear ambitions."


"New U.S. Proposal--Is It Really New?"


Liberal Asahi observed (6/25):  "A U.S. proposal, made unexpectedly in the first day's session of six-party talks, might suggest that the Bush administration has subtly changed its hard-line policy to become more flexible toward North Korea's nuclear development--to an extent that it would support energy aid to Pyongyang.  A closer look at the proposal, however, shows that North Korea might consider it a 'tricky' one because under the proposal, the U.S. itself would not bear financial costs for the suggested energy assistance and because the proposal does not specify how the U.S. would end what Pyongyang calls Washington's 'hostile' approach toward it."


"U.S. Policy Turnabout Comes Amidst Pressure"


Liberal Asahi observed (6/24):  "In the first day of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear development, the U.S. proposed a concrete roadmap toward defusing the nuclear tension on the Korean Peninsula, the first U.S. offer since the nuclear crisis was rekindled about 20 months ago.  The proposal contained the offering of a 'reward' to North Korea, something the U.S. had long refused to extend....  Behind this policy turnaround lie growing calls by China and South Korea for the U.S. to take a softer approach toward Pyongyang.  President Bush has also faced criticism at home by Democratic presidential candidate Kerry, who has accused the administration of ignoring North Korea's push for nuclear development.  It is possible that the president decided on the policy change after judging that without a new proposal, the North Korean issue might drag on and cast a dark shadow over his reelection bid."   


"Details Needed On Nuclear Freeze And Verification"


Liberal Tokyo Shimbun editorialized (6/23):  "North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has reportedly told Japanese and Chinese leaders that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is his ultimate goal and that verification would naturally occur if his nuclear program is frozen.  If his reported words are genuine, North Korea must make a proposal to the latest round of six-party talks that specifies a process toward denuclearization, including the return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime, the timing and scope of a nuclear freeze and how to verify such a freeze....  North Korea should realize that it would have much to gain if it takes a concrete step toward nuclear dismantlement."


"It's Time For U.S. To Move"


Liberal Asahi editorialized (6/22):  "The U.S. holds the key to defusing nuclear tension on the Korean peninsula.  President Bush reportedly rejected outright North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's overtures, relayed by Japan's Prime Minister Koizumi....  We urge the U.S. to offer a roadmap describing how Washington would respond to Pyongyang's demand for security assurances and economic aid in return for North Korea's possible conciliatory steps.  The Bush administration's very failure to do so has caused a stalemate in six-party talks.  We wonder if the U.S. feels complacent about the multinational forum.  We must not forget that such U.S. complacency would give North Korea more time to continue its nuclear development and further postpone settlement of the nuclear standoff."      


"Japan Must Achieve Breakthrough"


Conservative Sankei opined (6/22):  "The only way to stop North Korea's nuclear diplomatic maneuvering is to apply concerted pressure on it. If China and Russia are not enthusiastic about imposing pressure, the U.S. and Japan must join hands with South Korea to seek concessions from North Korea....  Japan must uphold its policy not to offer any economic assistance to Pyongyang without a complete dismantling of the North's nuclear program."


"Japan Must Keep Pressure On North Korea"


Business-oriented Nihon Keizai declared (6/17):  "The Diet has enacted another law to empower the government to impose economic sanctions on North Korea, but Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has markedly eased diplomatic pressure on the country in a misguided change in stance....   While powerful diplomatic weapons to use against Pyongyang have been deployed, Koizumi has clearly softened his stance toward the Kim regime since their summit last month, promising not to resort to the sanctions provided by the laws as long as the country complies with the Pyongyang Declaration the two leaders issued at their first meeting in 2002.  North Korea's record in the past two years concerning the commitments made in the bilateral declaration, however, don't warrant any such reward from Tokyo.  It has made no serious efforts toward real solutions to the issues of its nuclear arms program and past abductions of Japanese citizens, casting serious doubt on Pyongyang's compliance with the pledges made in the statement.  Koizumi's softened stance toward Kim's unpredictable regime doesn't make good strategic sense because the threat of Japan's economic sanctions prodded North Korea into action in recent months....  The threat of sanctions worked.  Use of pressure is the sine qua non for negotiations with North Korea, which has a reputation for diplomatic gamesmanship and breaking promises.   Koizumi made a badly rash move when he told Kim that Japan will not punish his government as long as he honors their declaration.  The document commits Pyongyang to comply with 'all the related international agreements for a comprehensive solution to the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula.'  But North Korea's withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and resumption of its nuclear weapons development clearly constitute violations of the vow....  When the six-nation talks concerning North Korea's nuclear ambitions reopen in Beijing later this month, Tokyo should make it very clear that it is willing to use the sanctions if necessary."


SINGAPORE:  "The Door's Not Closed" 


The pro-government Straits Times observed (6/29):  "A reliable test of whether the third round of North Korea talks in Beijing last week made progress or threw up a mirage is to study Pyongyang's pronouncements after the event, not what its chief delegate, Mr. Kim Kye Gwan, said....  The U.S. had offered inducements...if the Koreans would dismantle their nuclear arms program within a period of three months. It was not an ultimatum, as no mention was made of when the clock would start running....  The offer was itself a turnaround in the U.S. position....  Yesterday's response from the North Korean foreign ministry was a rejection of the three-month timeframe as being 'unscientific and unrealistic'....  But--a big but--the rejection had a pro-forma feel to it, and this could be encouraging.  The statement made two positive references which, taken in conjunction with the peremptory rejection, seemed to say the North had not foreclosed on this option....  On balance this would not qualify as substantive progress, but more of a truce to fight another day around the table. It is not to be sniffed at as the stakes involved are so high. It should be noted the North Koreans had in Beijing countered the U.S. proposal with an offer....  The catch was that the lolly had to come before the freeze. Would the Americans bite, knowing the high level of distrust? The two sides are back to the critical issue of sequencing. This is fundamental to the exercise. The reward formula had been gaining credence in Washington for some time, although it was only at this third Beijing session that incentives were placed on the table. Pyongyang should think long and hard over the offer, as the U.S. appears more prepared to deal than ever. But an imponderable intrudes if the leadership is gambling on a change of president in the U.S. on record as saying the U.S. should have direct talks with the North Koreans besides using the Beijing forum. Nothing is sweeter to Korean ears, but there are risks working to this assumption. If Mr. Bush is safely re-elected and his even-handed Secretary of State Colin Powell asks to is conceivable the U.S. would revert to a hard line."


SOUTH KOREA:  "First Step Has Been Taken Toward Resolving The North Korean Nuclear Problem"


Independent Dong-a Ilbo declared (6/28):  “For now, the most important thing regarding the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue is the determination and will of the leaders of U.S. and North Korean to do so.  In particular, the key lies in North Korea’s hands.  Now that the North made clear its intent to continue to negotiate during this latest round of the Six-Party Talks, it must show a forward-looking attitude in future talks.  Only then can a solution to the complicated nuclear problem be found....  Still we have a long and tedious way to go before resolving the nuclear problem.  However, if the U.S. and North Korea remain serious about the problem, with the ROK and China serving as active mediators, the nuclear problem, no matter how complicated it is, will be resolved.  This Six-Party meeting showed such a hope, modest though it was.”


"Negotiations On North Korea’s Nuclear Program Have Finally Started"


Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun maintained (6/28):  “Even though this Six-Party meeting failed to live up to our expectations, it can be generally viewed as having made progress, especially given the tug-of-war and the wrangling thus far between the concerned parties.  This favorable development was made possible only with the U.S. dropping its high-handed stance of demanding unilateral concessions from the North and providing a detailed proposal to resolve the current nuclear standoff....  Once the concerned parties enter into substantial negotiations, the issue of North Korea’s HEU nuclear program will clearly emerge as the biggest problem, with the North denying the existence of such a program and the U.S. insisting on including the nuclear program in North Korea’s nuclear programs to be dismantled.  Accordingly, unless the U.S. produces decisive evidence of the North having such a program, it would be hard to prevent exhaustive disputes during future talks.  It is high time for the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea to make a political decision on the issue.”


"North Korea Must Disclose the Truth of Its Nuclear Development Programs"


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (6/28): “Despite the U.S.’ easing of its hard-line stance toward North Korea during the recent Six-Party Talks, there was little change in the North’s attitude.  More than anything else, the North continued to deny the existence of its highly enriched uranium (HEU)-based nuclear program, preventing substantial progress from being made during the talks. … Accordingly, the most important thing for now is for the North to win international confidence regarding its nuclear programs by disclosing the actual state of its nuclear programs--including the HEU program--as it is.  If it continues to give the impression of hiding something, negotiations themselves cannot proceed....  The North must note that removing the opaqueness of its nuclear programs is the first step toward the resolution of the issue.”


"Expectations For Landmark Progress in Resolving the North Korean Nuclear Problem”


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (6/28): “Above all, it is a significant achievement that the concerned parties in the just-ended third round of the Six-Party Talks agreed on initial measures to freeze North Korea’s nuclear programs and to compensate the North for such action. …  Of course, the U.S. and North Korea failed to narrow their differences on the details of the ‘freeze and compensate’ solution, the verification process and the existence of the North’s HEU program.  However, the fact that both sides presented their proposals and expressed their willingness to reach a solution in itself is a big achievement.  In this regard, it is especially noteworthy that the fourth round of the Six-Party talks has been scheduled for September and that the working group will convene very soon, because this means that the momentum of the talks will continue. …  We strongly urge the North to recognize that giving up its nuclear ambitions and joining the international community is the most effective way to secure its regime; and we urge the U.S. to show more flexibility during the fourth round of the talks to achieve epoch-making progress in resolving the North Korean nuclear problem.”


"Hoping For Productive Outcomes During North Korea Nuclear Talks"


Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (6/25):  “It is a positive development that the U.S., the party that holds the key to resolving the current nuclear standoff, presented a substantial proposal on the North Korean nuclear problem after several months of a tedious tug-of-war....  However, it is too early to predict that the ongoing talks will produce good results, considering that the North continues to deny the existence of a highly enriched uranium-based nuclear program, one of the major contentious issues.  It seems difficult for the concerned parties to find common ground on the issue unless the U.S. presents decisive evidence of the North having such a nuclear program.  Nevertheless, once the U.S. and North Korea have presented concrete proposals to resolve the current standoff, we truly hope that the participating countries lead profound and productive discussions on the problem.  We once again stress that whether or not we find a solution to the current crisis depends solely on the wills of the U.S. and the North.”


"It Is Kim Jong-il’s Turn To Answer"


Conservative Chosun Ilbo stressed (6/25):  “During the ongoing Six-Party Talks in Beijing, the U.S., backing down from its previous position, expressed its willingness to aid the North if the communist country promises to dismantle its nuclear programs.  Furthermore, the U.S. accepted the ROK’s proposal to save North Korea’s face by using the term ‘comprehensive’--instead of the ‘complete, verifiable and irreversible (CVID),’ a term which the North calls inflammatory--in demanding the dismantlement of the North’s nuclear programs....  Though it is too early to be optimistic, this development raises our hopes for a breakthrough in resolving the deadlocked nuclear standoff, depending on the North’s response....  If North Korea, by any chance, tries to play for time, waiting for a change of government in the U.S., it would be of no help to reviving its shattered economy but also further isolate itself from the international community.  We strongly urge North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to make a swift and clear decision.  Should he miss this opportunity and repeat his brinkmanship diplomacy, no one could guarantee the consequences of his action.”


"U.S.’s New Proposal On North Korea’s Nuclear Program Forward-looking"


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo declared (6/25):  “The U.S. has put forth a new proposal that takes a step backward from its previously hard-line stance, heightening our expectations for a breakthrough.  We truly hope that this encouraging news precedes a new opportunity to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis....  Nevertheless, the question would be whether any real solutions could be reached, given that there are more than a few issues on which both sides have found it hard to compromise.  The biggest problem is the deep-rooted mutual distrust between the U.S. and North Korea.  Accordingly, all countries participating in the Six-Party Talks must pool their wisdom to remove such mutual distrust....  More than anything else, the North must not miss this opportunity.  If it chooses to refuse the U.S. overture, the U.S. might become much more hard-line, a development of which the North is most afraid.”


"A Promising Signal:  Six-Nation Talks Should Produce Concrete Results"


Moderate Hankook Ilbo declared (6/24):  "The third round of six-nation talks...are proceeding much more smoothly than expected. It is quite a welcome development, as the previous two rounds ended with little substantive results with the U.S. and North Korea showing little intentions of compromise. This time, however, both Pyongyang and Washington have reportedly come up with considerably concrete proposals concerning nuclear freeze and corresponding steps.  It is especially reassuring that the U.S. delegation has finally offered the North new incentives to give up its nuclear weapons, including a provisional guarantee not to invade....  The incentives...would be the first significant, detailed overture to North Korea since he took office more than three years ago. Bush made the right move to solve the 20-month nuclear standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear program.  Equally resilient is North Korea's attitude. The North's envoy said his country is willing to give up nuclear weapons 'in a transparent way,' if the U.S. ends its hostile policy toward Pyongyang. Earlier this week, the North agreed to discuss a 'verifiable freeze' of its nuclear program as a step toward dismantling it. Diplomats said the North would likely reveal the details concerning the four elements of nuclear freeze--scope, timing, duration and the method of verification.  All these represent a considerable progress from the previous rounds of the six-party talks--involving South and North Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia--in which Washington stuck to its CVID formula of complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of North Korean atomic weapons, while Pyongyang demanded rewards first. At the end of abortive talks, the two sides blamed each other, rendering the other four parties utterly helpless in mediating them....  This is no time for delaying tactics. President Bush is obliged to show substantive progress in bringing about peace on the Korean Peninsula, which has all but been frozen, or deteriorated, since his inauguration. North Korea also ought to realize if the ongoing talks fail to attain visible results, the six-nation format itself would be in danger, driving Washington back to other options, including a military one."


"It is Time For Six-Party Talks To Achieve Substantial Progress In Resolving The North Korean Nuclear Issue"


Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun concluded (6/23):  “Prospects are not bright for the third round of the Six-Party Talks, given that there are no changes in sight in the positions of the U.S. and North Korea....  It is very disappointing, and we wonder how long this kind of tug-of-war between both countries will continue....  We even suspect that they might have no desire to see progress and be simply pretending to talk in order to pass the buck.  In particular, there is suspicion that the Bush Administration, bogged down in Iraq, might be playing for time in the run-up to the presidential election.  If Washington truly wants to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, it must abandon its high-handed attitude and engage in dialogue in a more reasonable manner. If it has evidence of the North having a highly enriched uranium-based nuclear program, it should present the evidence and press the North to explain the matter....  Now that all countries participating in the talks know what the others’ position is, it is high time to achieve substantial progress through concrete negotiations during the multilateral meeting.”


"Hoping For A Breakthrough During This Six-Party Meeting On North Korea’s Nuclear Program"


Conservative Segye Ilbo stated (6/23):  “Considering the upcoming U.S. presidential election scheduled for November, there is a high possibility that this round of the Six-Party Talks might become the last meeting held this year.  In this regard, if this meeting fails to produce any results, it might give further ammunition to those who assert the uselessness of the Six-Party Talks and deepen global tensions on the nuclear issue....  North Korea must accurately read the international community’s firm resolve to not allow a nuclear-armed North Korea and present plans to dismantle its nuclear programs in a detailed and clear manner....  The U.S., for its part, should note that, if it continues to demand unilateral concessions from the North while insisting on its principle of the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of the North’s nuclear programs, no progress will be made during the talks. Only if the U.S. shows flexibility toward providing the North with security assurances and economic aid--matters of North Korea’s primary concern--in return for abandoning its nuclear programs would a solution to the nuclear problem be found.”


"Hopes For Six-way Talks"


The independent English-language Korea Herald editorialized (6/23):  "The six-way talks, the third round since they began 10 months ago, allow little expectations for a breakthrough.  Some try to find hopeful signs of North Korean moderation from the recent inter-Korean agreements on steps to ease tension on the sensitive West Sea, and to discontinue psychological warfare activities on either side of the border. But others warn the soft stance Pyongyang showed in the military officers' talks earlier this month was aimed at keeping Seoul on its side in its standoff with Washington on the nuclear issue.  While the U.S. gave no hint about making a concession from its hard line position of CVID on the North's nuclear program, official North Korean mouthpieces have blared out their own version of CVID, demanding 'a complete, verifiable and irrevocable dismantlement' of U.S. hostility toward it.  Our estimate is that the North might have added several more kilograms of plutonium to its nuclear arsenal during the stalemate that began in October 2002 when the North announced the scrapping of the 1994 Agreed Framework signed with the U.S....  Some speculate that Pyongyang will propose signing a peace treaty between South and North Korea and the U.S. Washington's reaction will certainly be negative if there is no advance, or at least a simultaneous act of nonproliferation.  North Koreans must believe time is on their side and may try to drag things a little further until they can declare themselves a nuclear power. But do they realize that a new nuclear power may collapse under economic destitution? Knowing things better, is the U.S. simply waiting for the "implosion" of this rogue state? We hope to receive some answers to these questions during the Beijing talks."


"The Need To Overcome Talk About Uselessness Of Six-Party Talks"


Pro-government Seoul Shinmun contended (6/21):  “We pay special attention to the upcoming Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs because, should the talks again fail to yield tangible results this time, those asserting the uselessness of the multilateral talks would gain more influence.  Thus, we sincerely urge all participating countries in the talks to do their best to produce a breakthrough in order to dispel such worries....  In particular, the ROKG, capitalizing on the current conciliatory mood with the North and China’s active mediating efforts, should play an active role in getting Washington and Pyongyang to be more flexible during the talks.”


"No More Quiet Diplomacy"


The independent English-language Korea Times declared (6/18):  "The government has once again revealed its inability and insincerity in dealing with the North Korean defector issue.  China has recently sent seven North Koreans back home, saying...North Korea would not punish the deportees as they are not political dissidents.  Nothing could be further from the truth....  Frankly speaking, Beijing deliberately pushed them back to the land of death.  More regrettably, China denied a report on the deportation as recently as early this month, telling South Korea it was not true.  It is hard to know whether Beijing deceived Seoul on purpose or there was some policy confusion within the Chinese government.  In any case, China's behavior is undiplomatic and ungentlemanly.  The sudden and unilateral notification of repatriation after persistent denial indicates Beijing hardly considered Seoul from the standpoint of a diplomatic partner....  Both governments should hurry to minimize the impact of the undesirable move.  Beijing, which has violated humanitarian principles, ought to see the repatriates are not persecuted on their return to North Korea.  Seoul for its part needs to make a strong appeal to the Chinese government and win Beijing's assurance not to repeat forced repatriation....  The time has long past for Seoul to come up with a comprehensive approach to North Korean defectors.  It is necessary in this regard to take the issue to the UNHCR and seek a solution jointly with related governments, NGOs and international organizations."


"Kim Jong-il's Return Visit"


The independent English-language Korea Herald editorialized (6/18):  "There is no knowing if a dialogue is under way, whether formally or informally, between Seoul and Pyongyang to discuss North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's trip to the South.  But there is speculation that the second round of inter-Korean summit talks may not be a dead promise, nor a matter of sheer wishful thinking by naive nationalists....  Whether it was due to the chilly mood which set in with the advent of the Bush administration in Washington, or because the hermit leader was worried about his safety here, Kim Jong-il kept turning a deaf ear to repeated invitations from DJ in the Blue House....  The reclusive leader in the North would do well to...consider seriously making a trip here at an early date.  In case he needs counsel from anyone concerning his hard-fought battle to get out of his dilemma and avoid a tragic fate for his impoverished state, the answer is none other than Kim Dae-jung:  he played a pivotal role in breaking the ice dividing the two Koreas, providing economic assistance to the North's nearly bankrupt regime and, more significantly, securing a slot for the South in the international geopolitical matriculation in the region....  Few would deny that relations between the two Koreas have made a phenomenal transition since the summit four years ago.  The current leader, President Roh Moo-hyun, won the election on his 'pro-sunshine' platform, though he has yet to prove his conviction and mettle for furthering cross-border harmony and cooperation.  Kim Jong-il may be buoyed by the political ambiance surrounding the peninsula, most notably the rancorous ties between Seoul and Washington and the softening attitudes of other participants in the six-nation dialogue over the North's nuclear disarmament....  The hermit leader in Pyongyang needs to realize that his path should pass through Seoul--that he will certainly benefit from first building up confidence with his compatriots in the South.  With his reportedly shrewd tactical mind, he must now take into account the thawing mood in the traditionally hostile segment of South Korean society, that is, the diehard anti-communists in the political opposition.  With signs from Washington that it may accept the South Korean proposal for a phased solution to the nuclear dispute, and the U.S. move to cut back troops here, Kim Jong-il should find that this is an opportune moment for him to prove in person that he is no longer a menacing security threat to South Koreans, but a brother in need of urgent help."     


"China Makes Korea The Fool"


Conservative Chosun Ilbo maintained (6/17):  "China sent seven North Korean defectors back home.  China’s excuse is that the defectors willingly went back to North Korea to see their families again and that unless the defectors are anti-government, they will not be severely punished.  These North Korean defectors are the same group of people who came to China seeking for freedom and to find refuge in Korea.  While making an attempt to cross the Vietnam border in February, they were arrested by the Chinese police and were sent to the asylum camp.  Soon afterwards, those defectors went on a hunger-strike demanding that they would be release to Korea.  If the suffering and the long dangerous road to freedom they took suddenly changed to going back to North Korea, no doubt that their stay at the asylum camp was unbearable and merciless.  Obviously, the Chinese government is well aware that the North Korean government would regard the defectors as anti-government and inflict punishment just for trying to flee to South Korea.  Long story short, China has forced those defectors into the land of death once again.  By this incident, China has torn down the last remaining trust with Korea in dealing with issues of North Korean defectors.  Without a word of notice to Korea, China not only sent back those defectors but when the news got out, they bailed out of the situation by lying.  The only action our government took for the past four months was to believe the lies of the Chinese government and criticize the press.  The Korean government would have nothing to say to the fact that they have been totally fooled by the Chinese government.  This case has clearly proven China could send the North Korean defectors back to their country whenever China wants to, giving warning to the Korean government and humanitarian organizations supporting North Korean defectors.  It is not hard to predict how the Chinese government would handle the rest of the numerous unknown North Korean defectors if it sent the seven defectors to North Korea without any hesitation.  No longer can the Korean government leave the fate of the North Korean defectors to the will of the Chinese government.  Starting right from this moment on, the Korean government must take steps with the Chinese government, humanitarian organizations, and related international institutions to organize a policy that would protect the safety and freedom of North Korean defectors in China."




FRANCE:  "North Korea Sticks To Its Guns"


Jean-Jacques Mevel wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (6/21):  “It is quite obvious that both President Bush and Kim Jong-il have everything to gain in letting their negotiations drag.  The American president, who is completely taken with how to get out of Iraq and with his election campaign, seems to have relegated the North Korean issues to a back burner.  As for the North Korean leader, he is convinced that time is on his side, and that a Democratic president may be more conciliatory....  But the problem for the U.S. is that the other four powers are getting edgy:  China, Russia, South Korea and Japan are very close to denouncing President Bush’s electoral cynicism....  More worrisome for Washington, is the fact that South Korea appears more eager to pacify North Korea than to please its American protector.”


GERMANY:  "What Else?"


Peter Sturm held in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (6/26):  "Speaking of nuclear tests means that the North Korean leadership does not believe it is necessary to find an agreement before the presidential elections in the U.S. That is risky.  Do North Koreans believe that they can negotiate better terms for the renunciation of the nuclear program?  There is no guarantee that a Democrat will be softer on Pyongyang.  Why should he?  And Bush has not yet lost the election, but Kim Yong Il believes this.  He knows that Bush cannot turn away from a peaceful solution in the Korean peninsula; there is no military danger for North Korea.  But it is unclear why North Koreans believe that they will economically survive till next year."


"Six-Party Talks"


Center-right Thueringer Allgemeine of Erfurt asserted (6/25):  "It is true that the U.S. was the one who was the loudest in raising the alarm over North Korea's nuclear programs.  But it was even necessary to exert pressure on the U.S. to sit at the same table at which Japan, South Korea, Russia, and China are pressing for a solution.  These are primarily the countries that launch initiatives to stop Pyongyang from escalating the situation by offering shipments of crude oil and economic assistance.  It is domestically important for the regime to keep the conflict boiling.  How else should the North Korean leadership with its infallibility claim explain the shortage of supplies if not by an external threat.  But food aid or the promised nine million euros for North Korean hospitals are in the end indispensable in view of the malnutrition in the country.  The U.S. demand to seal the nuclear plant within three months and even bring it out of the country is directed more to the U.S. president's election campaign than to a breakthrough at the negotiating table."




Peter Sturm commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (6/24):  "North Korea seems to be willing to give up its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees.   That looks like progress, given Pyongyang's stereotypical statements in past, saying it has the right to obtain nuclear weapons, but the next talks about mutual concessions will certainly be difficult.  Our experience with North Korea forbid partial agreements:  The Pyongyang regime would no longer hurry to agree on more concessions if it only freezes its program in exchange for oil.  The gamble with nuclear fire has already paid off for Pyongyang.  We can regret this, but there was no other exit.  We must not allow repetitions.  It is not too late in Iran."


"Oil In Exchange For Peace"


Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich opined (6/24):  "Washington's first serious concession in the nuclear crisis since President Bush came into office three and half years ago is a U-turn in America's North Korea policy.  The U.S. government often repeated its disdain of Clinton's attempts to buy North Korea's nuclear plants with oil supplies and light-water reactors.   From a moral point of view it sounded convincing that blackmailing must no longer pay off, but this argument had flaws:  It offered no leeway for progress in the world's largest military crisis....  The policy change is reasonable.  It does not make sense just to threaten North Korea.  If the dictator in Pyongyang is for sale then it is in the world's interest to buy him for the sake of peace....  For the first time a foundation was established for a diplomatic solution."


"Comeback Kim"


Georg Blume noted in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (6/24):  "George Bush has finally acknowledged what every government in East Asia tried to explain to him for years:  Time is playing for the nuclear plans of North Korea's dictator Kim Yong Il.  Only active U.S. diplomacy can stop North Korea on its way to become a nuclear power.  To achieve this U.S. President Bush had to make a U-turn....  All the best to the American initiative, but we aren't able to help thinking that Kim is neither a Brezhnev nor Gorbachev, but rather a Stalin.  Someone who cleverly negotiates with the outside world, but mercilessly oppresses his own people.   However, the U.S. allowed him the alleged real possession of nuclear bombs, while it used the assumption that Iraq possesses bombs as a reason to go to war.  This could soon turn out to be the cardinal mistake in recent world politics."


RUSSIA:  "Dead-End For Coalition Of Willing"


Aleksandr Zhebin wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (6/23):  "The 6-way talks on the North Korean nuclear program have stalled, all through the fault of the chief antagonists, the United States and the DPRK.   Washington demanding the shutdown of North Korea's nuclear power industry does not tally with urging the DPRK to get back to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty....  The U.S. does not seem to be looking for a compromise.  Vice-President Dick Cheney's words that America, rather than talking to evil, seeks to defeat, it reflect the neo-conservatives' true attitude toward the negotiations....  Evidently, the U.S. is using the talks as a screen behind which to knock together a new coalition of the willing so that it could change the regime in another country....  Moscow, its initial euphoria over being part of the process gone, believes that having the current format of the negotiations institutionalized is the most important, as it opens real prospects for an agreement.   Though Moscow's position, basically, remains unchanged, the North Koreans, Chinese and even South Koreans are worried that it might drift toward Washington's.  So it would be good for Russia, now that is working hard for a compromise, to cut down on its incantations on its position being close with those who is not even planning on compromising."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Dictators Understand Only Power"


Former Czech President Vaclav Havel stated in mainstream MF Dnes (6/24):  "The leader of North Korea, Kim Chong-il, keeps blackmailing the world at a time when many innocent North Koreans are dying of hunger and others are sent to concentration camps.  It is high time that the democratic world unites in its approach to the North Korean regime.  They should make it clear that totalitarian dictatorships are no party to negotiate with....  Determination, persistence and negotiation from a position of power are the only things Kim Chong-il and his kind understand.  Let’s hope we don’t need any horrific evidence to persuade us of this any more."


NORWAY:  "Nuclear Blackmail"


Social-democratic Dagsavisen commented (6/27):  "North Korea attempts straight-out nuclear blackmail....  But help and relief should come as a result of demonstrated will to cooperate and respect for international agreements, not as a result of threats."




CAMEROON:  "Caution By The U.S..."


Ibrahim Karche opined in the Yaounde-based government-owned bilingual Cameroon Tribune (6/24):  "The U.S. is doing its utmost best to put an end to North Korea's nuclear program. It would be recalled that two previous negotiations, last August and last February, organized in Beijing did not succeed in calming down tension between the two countries.  The U.S. hopes that this time will be different.  The U.S. affirms that North Korea is harboring a secret Uranium program, and requests that they dismantle their whole nuclear arsenal. It is in this perspective that six countries...are presently negotiating in the Chinese capital.  Since the cold war ended, North Korea has remained one of the rare countries in Asia that harbors hostilities towards the U.S....  The U.S. government, since September 11, has engaged in a world wide fight against terrorism, and is determined to wipe out all potential threats to world peace. The US government is afraid that countries like North Korea that withdrew from the 2003 'Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty', could supply 'rascal states' with the 'fatal weapon'.  The international community is looking forward to a fruitful negotiation when the meeting ends tomorrow in the Chinese capital."



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