International Information Programs
July 15, 2005

July 15, 2005





**  The talks provide a "last chance" to achieve "substantial progress."

**  Pyongyang's decision to join the talks is due to the U.S.' new "relatively moderate approach."

**  Moderate papers credit Seoul's "more generous offer" to supply the DPRK with energy.

**  Leftist dailies warn against "braggadocio or intemperate language" from either side.




'Important to make tangible progress'--  Papers urged Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington to show "firm determination" to persuade the DPRK to "dismantle its nuclear programs."  They demanded the six-party talks make "concrete progress" in convincing the North to "abandon its nuclear program"; Japan's business-oriented Nihon Keizai urged the allies to "no longer allow the North to play for time."  Wary papers such as Seoul's conservative Chosun Ilbo warned the "resumption of the talks itself does not mean much" without "tangible results."  Japanese dailies stressed the need to "ensure regional cooperation," while South Korean outlets noted the danger posed by a possible "collapse of the North Korean economy." 


Praise for the U.S.' 'mild moves'--  Secretary Rice's trip to the region sparked praise from papers arguing the U.S. had "toned down" its "aggressive rhetoric" towards the DPRK.  The liberal Toronto Star applauded "Washington's patient diplomacy and willingness to work with regional allies," while liberal Tokyo Shimbun singled out "Rice's willingness to retract" her description of the North as a "tyrannical regime."  Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post added the U.S. had "softened its tone recently," helping to create a "better negotiating atmosphere."  While the "rift of mistrust" between Pyongyang and Washington remains deep, outlets agreed that both parties seek to avoid a "dangerous escalation."


Offering 'food and energy supplies in great amounts'--  Several papers praised Seoul's "vast aid plan" for the North.  Indonesia's leading Kompas contended that Pyongyang agreed to participate in the six-party talks because of Seoul's "attractive incentive packages," and India's nationalist Hindustan Times opined that the South's assistance "brings fresh hope to efforts to resolve the crisis."  Several South Korean skeptics, however, warned that "aspects of the proposal [to give electricity to the North] need our closer examination."  Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo cautioned that the "timetable for the electricity supply should be in sync with the actual dismantlement" of the DPRK's nuclear program.


Supporting 'cooperation and reconciliation'--  Liberal writers termed the North's pledge to attend the six-party talks "proof of the country's seriousness."  They lauded Pyongyang's "very active attitude" toward economic cooperation with South Korea.  South Korea's moderate Hankook Ilbo praised the DPRK's "more positive and reciprocal tone," to which the U.S. should respond with "fresh ideas."  International Herald Leader was one of three official Chinese outlets to, disconcertingly, claim the U.S. "has been preparing for war" against the DPRK.


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


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.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  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 40 reports from 11 countries over 9 - 15 July, 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




FRANCE:  "Pyongyang Returns To The Negotiating Table"


Philippe Gelie noted in right-of-center Le Figaro (7/12):  “From the start of her trip to Asia, Secretary Rice got what she came for: North Korea has accepted to return to the negotiating table. Although Washington continues to have doubts about Pyongyang’s commitment to give up on its nuclear arsenal, regardless of the concessions offered, it has no other option at the ready. While some U.S. officials propose the idea of sanctions to isolate the regime, Seoul and Beijing oppose this option. A military escalation is out of the question considering the Pentagon’s involvement in Iraq. As a result, Washington has had to moderate its approach in the last few months and resumed relations with Pyongyang, albeit unofficially. It has also unofficially accepted the aid ‘package’ offered by South Korea to its northern neighbor.”


"Washington And Rapprochement Between Seoul And Pyongyang"


Philippe Pons wrote in left-of-center Le Monde (7/12):  “Seoul has concocted a vast aid plan for North Korea in exchange for its return to the negotiating table. The position that Secretary Rice will adopt in Seoul will be an indication of Washington’s position vis-a-vis Pyongyang. In the past weeks Washington has adopted a relatively moderate approach, well received by Pyongyang. And during her trip Secretary Rice said that ‘the U.S. had no intention of invading North Korea.’ Is this ‘verbal disarmament’ a sign that the U.S. is adopting a more moderate approach? The impasse with North Korea annoys Washington, which has made coercion the axis of its diplomacy....  In the span of two years, Washington’s crisis management method with North Korea has made things worse. Pyongyang’s return to the negotiating table has focused every attention, but it does not guarantee that a solution to the crisis is imminent. The new factor in the equation is the level of ‘consultation’ between the North and the South and the prospect of a ‘national re-conciliation.’”


GERMANY:  "Offers"


Peter Sturm noted in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/13):  "North Korea has not yet made any concessions, but it can already assume what kind of benefits it will get when it makes a move.  South Korea will offer food and energy supplies in great amounts.  And even the Americans are inclined to cut back their aggressive rhetoric towards Pyongyang.  That is how international politics works if you only behave incredibly for long enough.  Pyongyang's concessions are certainly worth something.  However, in South Korea's case, the generosity has different reason.  Seoul fears nothing more than North Korea's collapse.    The government openly believes in the theory...that the borders to the North should only be opened and its people should be prevented from crossing the border until similar living conditions exist in both parts.  But Korea would not be the first case were reality triumphs over theory."


"North Korea"


Michael Stürmer commented in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (7/12):  "The resumption of talks is in Washington's and Beijing's common interest.  The U.S. is interested in rescuing the non-proliferation treaty and maintaining the rift between those who possess nuclear weapons and those who don't.  The Chinese want to rid the red dragon at its doorstep of its nuclear facilities and to show to the American superpower that nothing goes without the Middle Kingdom in East Asia.  Both want to hold back South Korea of investing in nuclear weapons, and they want to maintain Japan's nuclear abstinence....  No matter how much Beijing complains over the U.S. hegemony in the Pacific:  China prefers the U.S. nuclear protection of Japan over Tokyo's nuclear armament....  The success for America's Secretary of State is not yet guaranteed, but she reached an agreement with the Chinese on the modus and goal of the negotiations.  North Korea is called to order and that is good.  It is even better that the U.S. and China are doing it together."


"Talking Instead Of Bombing"


Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich editorialized (7/11):  "Rarely have North Korea and the U.S. been of one opinion, but they now both said they want to participate in the six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear program.  That is not a reason to throw a party but it is good news.  U.S. Secretary of State Rice spoke of first moves and North Korea's Foreign Ministry described the resumption of the talks as important....  These cautious statements already mark the end of the new unity.  The rift of mistrust between Pyongyang and Washington remains deep, and both sides are to blame for it.  North Korea has tested the patience and good will of all participants by boycotting the nuclear negotiations and declaring itself as a nuclear power.  Only a nuclear test could now top this.  Washington has sent out contrary signals.  On the one side, the Americans are talking of a negotiated solution.  On the other side, Rice described North Korea as an outpost of tyranny, which does not sound like the U.S. is open for dialogue.  It is a good thing that both sides want to reassume talks on July 25.  A dangerous escalation of the crisis would be the worst of all solutions."


RUSSIA:  "Another War Would Be Too Much"


Andrey Ivanov said in business-oriented Kommersant (7/13):  “Ever since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime, South Korea has worried Washington might be planning to depose Kim Jong Il, another name on U.S. President George Bush’s list of tyrants.  But the Korean Peninsula is no Iraq.  South Korea simply can’t afford to have another war that would throw their thriving economy back by decades and destroy untold peaceful lives.  More than that, South Korea would hate to see its chief ideological enemy, Kim Jong Il, disappear for the simple reason that, with the dictator gone, Seoul would have to take responsibility for the North Korean population.  Even with billions of dollars in aid from America and the rest of the Western world, it would take decades to bring North Korea’s ravaged economy up to the level of South Korea’s.”


"North Korea To Resume Talks"


Yelena Ogneva said in reformist Novyye Izvestiya (7/11):  “Over the past weekend Pyongyang voiced its intention to return to the negotiating table to discuss a nuclear-free status for the Korean Peninsula.  This statement came after the United States, speaking through Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, for the first time officially recognized the DPRK as a sovereign state and promised not to attack it.”


"North Korea Is Surprised By The U.S.’ Being Nice To It"


Aleksandr Lomanov held in reformist Vremya Novostey (7/11):  “North Korean authorities claim a foreign policy victory for having had the U.S. tone down.  They point out that Washington’s promise not to attack the sovereign DPRK makes it possible to resume talks.  Seoul, a donor to the North Korean economy, may have contributed, too.   The United States often turns to the DPRK’s neighbors, China and Russia, asking them to bring pressure to bear on Pyongyang, but as it does so, it ignores Moscow’s and Beijing’s military and political concerns.”


LUXEMBOURG:  "Striptease"


Christophe Langenbrink observed in conservative d’Wort (7/11):  “The negotiations on North Korea’s controversial nuclear program should resume by the end of July.  Due to diplomatic touchiness, dictator Kim Jong Il has been stringing along the participants in the six party talks for over a year.  One cannot trust the emotional fluctuations of the North Korean leader.  Even though the gap was narrowed due to the official recognition of North Korea by State Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the chances of finding a solution to the conflict are very slim, since mutual distrust is deeply ingrained.  The U.S. asks for no less than the complete disclosure of military and civilian nuclear programs.  The North Koreans reply by demanding substantial financial and economic help.  If one translates this diplomatic language, this means that the tiny North Korea must first withdraw military threats before it receives any financial aid.”




CHINA:  "The New Round Of Six Party Talks Can’t Afford To Fail"


Zhang Liangui commented in official international International Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu Daobao) (7/14):  “Since February 10, the U.S. has been preparing for war against North Korea.  On June 4, the U.S. and South Korea finished perfecting their ‘5029 war plan’ against North Korea.  Anyone can tell that the U.S. is preparing to show its tough side once the talks fail.  Thus the nuclear issue has reached a critical time and the talks can’t afford a failure.  People expect all parties to adopt a sincere attitude.  First, all parties should be aware of the severity of the situation and adopt a more sincere attitude.  Second, all parities should have a feeling of urgency and must reach an outcome.  Third, the talks should be substantive.  Finally, it is necessary to systemize the Six Party Talks, making it a regular conference.”


"Is The U.S. Giving North Korea Their Last Opportunity?"


Shi Yinhong held in official international International Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu Daobao) (7/14):  "The three mild moves made by the U.S. which have allowed the Six Party Talks to resume are: the initiation of contact with North Korea; the stopping of verbal attacks on the nature of the North Korean regime along with the recognition of North Korea as a sovereign nation which the U.S. does not wish to invade; the willingness to engage in bilateral talks in the framework of the Six Party talks....  There are many indications that the U.S. government might see this round of talks as the last opportunity.   The talks’ failure would cause U.S. to have a stronger desire than before to submit the issue to the UNSC.  Also, if the talks end without an agreement, North Korea would further strengthen the development of its nuclear weapons and might ask for an even higher price to come back to the table.  China and South Korea’s divergences with the U.S. would become fiercer.  The difficulties to solve the nuclear issue would become even harder.”


"China And South Korea Actively Promote The Talks, The U.S. And North Korea Make Decisions"


Xu Baokang and Zou Dehao commented in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (7/13):  “South Korean media indicated two preconditions have been satisfied by North Korea, allowing it to change its attitude and decide to return to the Six Party Talks.  When the U.S. took back the saying ‘outpost of tyranny’ the Korea-U.S. talks were quickly agreed to within the Six Party Talks framework.  The root reason, however, is that Kim Jong-il has made a critical decision. He claimed that North Korea would return to ‘the treaty of non-proliferation of nuclear weapon’ when he met with a South Korean official.  Secondly, North Korea found out if it continues its way of possessing nuclear weapons, its relations with South Korea and the U.S. will deteriorate further and finally might devolve into a war....  The new round of Six Party Talks will face many difficulties.  First, the U.S. and North Korea still have large disagreements.  Second, Korea-Japan conflicts could be one factor to hinder the talks.  Third, the U.S. policy on Korea is unstable.  The U.S. cares only about abandoning nuclear ambitions and U.S. will not give up the plan of military action against North Korea.”


CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):  "Concessions Are Needed For Successful Six-party Talks"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (7/14):  "North Korea has formally announced that it would return to the negotiation table, giving an impetus to the six-party talks that were suspended a year ago.  All parties quickly agreed to hold the talks by the end of this month.  For the talks to go smoothly, all parties will hold pre-talks consultations and visits.  The two most noticeable visits are U.S. Secretary of State Rice's recent tour of China, Japan and South Korea; and the visit to Pyongyang by President Hu Jintao's special envoy, State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan.  When Secretary Rice met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on July 12, they reached a consensus on the upcoming six-party talks.  Both the U.S. and Japan hoped to 'obtain concrete progress.'  This hope, however, will largely depend on Pyongyang's cooperation.  Rice said that if North Korea refused to give up its nuclear weapons program, the new round of six-party talks would end in failure.  The key to the talks' success will therefore be to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program....  The closer the date of the six-party talks, the more frequent the visits among the six parties.  If there is no effective means to deal with the issue--and if the U.S. and North Korea are not willing to make any concessions or compromises--the six-party talks will only break up in discord."


"North Korea Must Mean What It Says In New Talks"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post remarked (7/11):  "Disarmament experts also know the North's untrustworthiness.  Despite having signed the foremost international treaty guaranteeing it would not develop nuclear weapons, it withdrew, told foreign monitors to leave, restarted a nuclear power plant and announced it had made bombs.  Those weapons, in the hands of such an unpredictable power, make Northeast Asia a dangerous place.  North Korea blames the U.S., its rival since the 1950-53 Korean war.  American troops based in Japan and South Korea are seen by Pyongyang's leadership as being as threatening as its nuclear weapons and missiles are to those countries.  The U.S. sees the North as the provocateur, but has softened its tone recently, even promising more humanitarian help to alleviate the suffering of 6 million of the country's 22.5 million people said by aid agencies to be facing hunger.  North Korea has finally opted to return to talks and a better negotiating atmosphere is evolving.  But it is just a beginning; and its negotiators, along with those of the other nations involved--particularly from the U.S.--must do their utmost to lessen the fear stalking the region."


"Western Countries Should Treasure China's Contributions In Countering Terrorism"


Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News declared (7/9):  "The terrorist attacks in London have already made U.S. political circles understand that the real threat to the U.S. and its Western allies is terrorism.  China has always been a supporter of the U.S. in the international war on terrorism.  The U.S. should take a positive look at the peaceful ascendancy of China, at its sincere aspirations of peaceful environment around the world and at China's active role in solving the DPRK nuclear issue."


TAIWAN:  "Let Kim Jong Il Become Everyone’s Nightmare"


James Tu commented in mass-circulation Apple Daily (7/13):  "The U.S. should recognize that China’s policy toward North Korea is changing, and more and more young Chinese officials have begun to view North Korea as a burden or a threat.  The more China needs an environment for its peaceful development, the less it will tolerate a bad neighbor [like Pyongyang] that is unpredictable, wages war frequently, and could easily drag it into the storms of war.  Beijing cannot stop giving aid and support to North Korea all of a sudden, but it does not mean China has no plan to totally transform the regime in Pyongyang.  The U.S. does not need to shoulder the crisis on the Korean peninsula all by itself.  Kim Jong Il’s regime is not simply a nightmare for the U.S. and Japan; it is, without doubt, a nightmare for South Korea, and real soon, it will be a nightmare for China and for the international community, too.  When that day comes, if interests on the Korean peninsula can be distributed reasonably, it will not be so difficult or cost such a high price to resolve the North Korean issue.”


JAPAN:  "Japan Should Call For Resolution Of Abduction Issue At Six-Party Talks"


Conservative Sankei observed (7/15):  "Representatives of the families of those allegedly abducted to North Korea...urged the government to take up the abduction issue at the six-party nuclear talks scheduled to resume in Beijing later this month.  Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda said, that, as a matter of course, there would be no change in the GOJ's basic position of trying via all possible means to resolve the abduction issue, including at the revived six-party talks.  During talks with FM Machimura in Tokyo earlier this week, Secretary of State Rice reportedly expressed strong U.S. support for Japan's bid to resolve the abduction issue.  The U.S. House has adopted a resolution calling on the USG to bring up the matter at the multilateral talks.  Strong U.S.-Japan cooperation during the talks in bringing a halt to North Korea's nuclear program and resolving the abduction issue is the only way to ensure peace and security in the region."


"Time To Force North Korea To Scrap Its Nuke Program"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized (7/13):  "During talks in Tokyo on Tuesday, Secretary of State Rice and Foreign Minister Machimura agreed on the need to urge North Korea at the revived six-way talks to scrap its nuclear weapons program. It is important to make tangible progress on issues at the talks that will lead to the North's abolishment of its nuclear program....  It is only natural that FM Machimura stressed the need to bring a halt to the North's nuclear and missile development programs at the talks. This is because GOJ officials are concerned that Japan's security will be jeopardized if the North miniaturizes nuclear warheads and mounts them on Rodong missiles that could bring a large part of Japan within their range.  South Korea, China and Russia are opposed to North Korea's nuclear weapons development, which poses a threat to regional security. However, these nations continue to believe that their countries will not be exposed to the North's nuclear threat. Compared to these countries, the level of security threat felt by Japan from the North's nuclear development is decidedly different....  Pyongyang has made remarks criticizing the lack of Japanese efforts to return the North to six-party talks. Judging from this, the DPRK may attempt to divide and isolate Japan from other participants in the talks....  Secretary Rice expressed full U.S. support for Japan's plan to take up the abduction issue at the talks, while South Korea and China expressed opposition to Japan's plan to raise the issue."


"Joint Efforts Sought To Resolve Abduction Issue"


An editorial in liberal Mainichi read (7/13):  "Secretary of State Rice and Foreign Minister Machimura agreed during their Tuesday meeting to renew cooperation at the revived six-way talks to bring a halt to North Korea's nuclear development program. The two foreign ministers also agreed to hold a meeting in Seoul on Thursday of chief U.S. and Japanese delegates to the talks, joined by a South Korean chief delegate, prior to the resumption of talks in Beijing later this month. It is extremely important for these three allies to join hands in making substantial progress on the North's nuclear crisis....  Signs of South Korea's reconciliatory policy toward the North has also baffled Japan, who is trying to find an early and comprehensive settlement of the abduction issue.  A communiqué issued at the G-8 Summit urged North Korea to react positively to concerns from the international community over the fate of people allegedly abducted to the North.  This is a good indication that the global community has by no means let the abduction issue pass into oblivion. During her talks with FM Machimura, Secretary Rice expressed strong U.S. support for a resolution of the abduction issue, while stressing the need for North Korea to make a strategic decision to halt its nuclear weapons program. Although there are many issues facing Japan's diplomacy at present, Japan should take up the abduction issue for discussion at the talks and should also make sideline contact with the North Koreans to find a clue that could lead to resolving the issue. We praise efforts by all parties concerned to return North Korea to the multilateral talks."


"Progress Necessary At Six-Way Talks"


Liberal Asahi opined (7/12):  "The DPRK has agreed to return to stalled six-party nuclear talks, which North Korea has boycotted for more than one year. Although there has been no progress at three sessions of the talks held so far concerning a complete halt to North Korea's nuclear program, there are no other frameworks of discussions that deal with the issue. We, therefore, welcome the planned resumption of the multilateral talks. Both the U.S. and North Korea should fully realize that now is the time to make substantial progress at the resumed talks, which are designed to bring a complete halt to the North's nuclear development.  If the international community lets North Korea go ahead with its nuclear development, it will probably produce one nuclear weapon after another. We support Secretary of State Rice's remarks in Beijing, seeking a complete abolishment by the North of its nuclear weapons development. The question is how other participants in the six-party talks will urge the North to halt its nuclear program. North Korea's nuclear development in itself will not only pose a serious regional threat but also open the way for proliferating nuclear weapons. During Secretary Rice's current visit to Tokyo and Seoul, the U.S., Japan and South Korea should review their unified position toward North Korea and discuss measures on how to deal with the North at the talks."  


"Six-Party Talks:  Hope That They Do Make Substantial Progress"


Liberal Tokyo Shimbun stated (7/12):  "At the six-party talks...neighboring countries must seize this best chance to make substantial efforts to prevent further development of North Korea's nuclear weapons....  While we welcome the announcement that the talks will take is not enough to simply be happy they will occur....  Even though the North's nuclear arms are not an established fact, there is a need to make concrete progress towards North Korea's complete nuclear disarmament....  As Secretary Rice visits China, she is making strong statements calling for the North's complete nuclear disarmament, while continuing talks and consultations with regional leaders....  As she will also visit Japan and South Korea, now is the time to ensure regional cooperation.  The U.S, Japan and South Korea guarantee they maintain cooperative relations, but at this juncture we increasingly hear of discord.  There is a need to reaffirm cooperation among the three to achieve the common shared goal of security in East Asia....  As reasons to return to the talks, Pyongyang cited the U.S.' recognition of it as a soveregn nation and promise not to attack it....  Another reason was understood to be Rice's willingness to retract her description of the North as a tyrannical regime....  It also seems that the DPRK's decision came due to concern that China was growing angrier....  The international community has also sharply cut food aid to the North.  The severity of the economic difficulties inside North Korea is increasing, as its economy remains sluggish.    North Korea faces the situation of having to join the six-party talks.  Its neighbors should stay aware of this fact....  Former Chinese Foreign Minister Tang will visit North Korea on July 12.  We hope he passes along the message that it is not in the North's interest to indefinitely put off its nuclear disarmament.  As for Japan, solving the abduction issue is also an urgent matter.  Though the North continues to claim that the issue is closed, it will not do to simply cover up such terrorist acts.  We demand that this issue be raised at the talks."


"How Will North Korea Act At Resumed Six-Way Talks?"


An editorial in top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri read (7/12):  "Is it possible to find a peaceful settlement of North Korea's nuclear crisis at the resumed six-way talks that are expected to start in late July? A planned resumption of the multilateral nuclear talks is a step forward toward bringing a halt to the North's nuclear weapons development. All participants in the presumed talks should reach a consensus on the need for Pyongyang's abrogation of its nuclear program. It was a 'carrot' approach, if not a carrot-and-stick policy, extended by China and South Korea that prompted the North to return to the talks.  In the U.S., Democratic Party legislators have made critical remarks in which they reportedly charged that it was the 'get-tough' policy in the Bush administration that failed to check the North's nuclear development....  We speculate that Secretary of State Rice reportedly placed greater significance on progress at the resumed six-way talks than on the resumption of the talks....  North Korea holds the key to making progress at the talks… Unless North Korea shows clear and reliable signs of scrapping its nuclear program, Japan cannot join other nations in providing heating oil or other fuel to the energy-short communist state."     


"An Early Settlement Of North Korea's Nuclear Crisis And Abduction Issue Sought"


Business-oriented Nihon Keizai concluded (7/12):  "We hail the planned resumption of six-way talks on North Korea's nuclear development. However, there should be substantial progress at the talks concerning the North's nuclear development and the abduction issue. All five nations should resume the talks with North Korea, determined that they refer the case to the UNSC, if there is no progress at the planned talks. The five participants should no longer allow the North to play for time.  It is noteworthy that both China and South Korea have recently become more conciliatory toward North Korea. However, the North's nuclear armament would not only accelerate the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Asia but also threaten the security of China and South Korea. Japan also needs to resume talks on the fate of Japanese nationals allegedly abducted to the North. Japan should join the U.S., which also attaches importance to the abduction issue, in breaking the stalemated issue at the talks."


"U.S. Adamant On DPRK's Abolition Of Nuclear Weapons Development"


A commentary in conservative Sankei maintained (7/10):  "The USG hailed the DPRK's agreement to return to stalled six-party nuclear talks, while emphasizing Secretary of State Rice's remarks clarifying no change in the U.S.'s call for North Korea's total abolition of its nuclear weapons program.  Prior to the start of Secretary Rice's tour through four Asian nations, the U.S. had used all diplomatic channels available to demonstrate a stick-and-carrot approach toward returning the North to the multilateral talks.  As a result, North Korea's return to the talks was agreed upon at a Beijing meeting between A/S Hill and North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim.  The U.S.' carrot-and-stick policy includes a planned shipment of 50,000 tons of foodstuffs to the North, as well as Secretary Rice's press remarks dismissing possible military action against Pyongyang.  The U.S. had also threatened to refer the case to the U.N. if the North did not return to the talks.  Behind U.S. calls for the North's early return to the six-way talks are concerns over the North's possible testing of nuclear weapons....  It is unlikely that the U.S. will make any direct compromise with North Korea at the six-party talks that are likely to start at the end of this month.  A senior USG official accompanying Secretary Rice on her Asian trip emphasized that the primary purpose of the six-party talks would be a de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."


"North Korea Trying To Make Direct Deal With U.S."


Seoul correspondent Mr. Minegishi asserted in business-oriented Nihon Keizai (7/10):  "It is believed that North Korea will attempt to make a direct deal with the U.S. within the framework of six-party nuclear talks.  However, future negotiations will be difficult between the North, which has been accelerating its nuclear development program, and the U.S.-Japan camp, which is calling for the North's total abolition of nuclear-weapons development.  Even if North Korea clashes with the U.S. and Japan at the talks, the North Koreans are hopeful that South Korea will act as a buffer.  Pyongyang's latest move to return to the negotiating table is seen as an attempt to preempt a possible get-tough move among hardliners in the Bush administration."         


INDONESIA:  "North Korea Willing To Negotiate"


Leading independent Kompas argued (7/12):  "North Korea’s willingness to resume discussion of its nuclear weapons program was welcomed by many, in particular the U.S., South Korea and Japan. Other countries that have been involved in the discussion are China and Russia....  U.S. Secretary of State Rice said on Sunday that North Korea’s willingness was only a first step. She welcomed North Korea’s readiness, but also stated that the discussion would be tough....  What makes North Korea finally agree to change its mind and return to discussion? Analysts say changes in North Korea’s stance were triggered by some factors, i.e. persuasions combined with international pressure. Recently, contacts with North Korea have been increased, through China’s mediation, directly with South Korea, which keeps offering attractive incentive packages. Whereas pressure may have the form of warnings and the dispatch of the invisible F-117A aircraft by the U.S. to South Korea....  North Korea’s position can be seen as proof of the country’s seriousness to negotiate, most probably based on consideration that, through this negotiation, North Korea may hope for economic aid and a security guarantee as compensation. With these, North Korea may have the opportunity to rebuild its economy with a guarantee of its regime’s continued existence.”


SINGAPORE:  "Honesty Vital In Nuke Talks"


The pro-government Straits Times opined (7/12):  "It has taken 13 months of patient diplomacy to get the Beijing six-party process on North Korea revived....  Nothing must go wrong in the leap-up. The worst thing that could happen is for braggadocio or intemperate language--on either the North Korean or American side--to disrupt a fragile process. Speculation has surfaced...that Pyongyang could seek to convert the talks into a session on general disarmament, not specifically its nuclear arms program. This would play into US hands, as it would be the proof America needs to show the other interlocutors that Pyongyang could not be trusted to negotiate in good faith. In this scenario what could happen next is anybody's guess: What only needs noting is what US officials have referred to as Plan B. This could range from UNSC sanctions--which Pyongyang has said would be declaring war--to interceptions of ships and aircraft suspected of carrying contraband materiel--which would run up against Chinese opposition. Both courses of action would have serious consequences.  There is also speculation the US would not exceed its offer made at the session in June last year before the talks went into stalemate....  As neither side trusts the other--for good reason--the hope must be that the US would come up with fresh ideas on the sequencing of the dismantlement and reward. Assuming there will be no change to the US offer, a sequencing that is acceptable to both countries will determine the fate of the talks. It is extremely tricky. At face value it would be impossible to make divergent lines intersect. But the North's Mr. Kim Jong Il had said something extraordinary just last month. He would relent on the arms program, consider rejoining the Non-Proliferation Treaty and invite back inspectors from the IAEA if the U.S. 'recognizes and respects' his country. Both sides must show honesty not to let a rare opportunity slip. It could be the last time they will meet across a table."


"U.S. Should Make More Friends And Fewer Enemies"


Pro-government Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao declared (7/11):  "Obviously,  the first leg of her (Condoleezza Rice) four-nation Asian tour was not futile....  There are clear indications that China and South Korea...have made much effort behind the scene to break the deadlock on North Korea's nuclear issue. Fortunately, Dr Rice could better 'appreciate' their efforts....  Unlike many US leaders and senior officials, she had made Beijing the first leg of her tour....  There are reasons to believe that Dr Rice is more aware of the importance of Sino-US ties....  There is no doubt that the US is the world leader.  However, when it comes to winning the hearts of the world, there is still much that the US has to do....  The US has too many enemies and too few friends today. It needs to make more friends and fewer enemies. During a meeting with Dr Rice...Hu said he believed that her visit to China would help to strengthen communication and understanding....  He also assured...that China did not and would not interfere in or pose a threat to any country. Dr Rice replied that the US welcomed a strong China and that China's economic development would also benefit world economic development. This is obviously an effort by the US State Department to mend the damage to Sino-US relations caused by the hawks following the departure of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. To most countries, it is certainly good that the US and China enjoy good relations."


SOUTH KOREA:  "What Role Will Seoul Play In Six-Party Talks?"


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (7/14):  “After Unification Minister Chung Dong-young explained Seoul’s ‘important proposal’ to provide electricity to North Korea to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during their June 17 meeting and made the plan public, it has become uncertain if Seoul can play a leading role at the Six-Party Talks as initially expected.  With the nature and size of its economic aid to the North already on the table as the only negotiation cards the ROK holds, it is highly likely that the Six-Party Talks will become two-way negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.  Assuming that energy aid from the ROK is effectively in the bag, the North may attempt a tug-of-war with the U.S. over the security guarantee issue alone, although it may also hold out for more economic aid or try to obtain an even better deal on electricity.  The U.S., for its part, has been relieved of the burden of persuading Seoul and Tokyo to shoulder the financial responsibilities for economic aid and has an easier situation ahead in which all it has to do, as Secretary Rice said, is to discuss ways to put Seoul’s proposal to work at the multilateral talks.  This time, since the ROKG has already committed itself to supplying electricity, it remains to be negotiated who will pay for the heavy fuel oil shipments to the North until the power lines are up and running in the communist state.”


"Seoul Must Tread Carefully With Its Important Proposal"


Conservative Chosun Ilbo argued (7/13):  “Seoul’s ‘important proposal,’ in a word, calls for us to shoulder the entire economic burden for resolving the North Korean nuclear dispute while other countries, including the U.S., merely provide security assurances for the North Korean regime.  The proposal can be seen as a fair offer, especially in a situation where the early project to build two light water reactors for the North is virtually aborted....  However, some aspects of the proposal need our closer examination.  First of all, the plan wants us to start laying power lines once the North ‘agrees’ to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.  However, given that the North continued with its nuclear development despite a pledge to freeze it under the 1994 Geneva Accord and went off on its current nuclear adventure when the violation was discovered, any project predicated on a North Korean promise alone is likely to be problematic.  Some might say that if the North violates the agreement, we can suspend the project or not supply electricity.  However, if such a situation were to arise, inter-Korean ties would face a much more serious crisis.  In addition, electricity is a kind of ‘strategic material’ and essential for the recovery of the North Korean economy.  In this regard, we need to make a careful strategic judgment on whether or not to supply large amounts of electricity to the North.  We wonder if the ROKG proposal takes into account all long-term prospects for inter-Korean relations.”


"Supply Of Electricity Must Be Linked To Dismantlement Of Nuclear Program"


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (7/13):  “Since the collapse of the North Korean economy will have a fatal effect on us, we need to prevent this from happening.  However, with the severe energy shortages continuing in the North, any economic aid or measures will be futile.  Therefore, if the North promises to dismantle its nuclear programs in a complete manner, it will be no problem to provide the country with some 2 million kilowatts of electricity.  However, there is something the ROKG should keep in mind.  We must get the sure promise from the North to fully dismantle its nuclear programs.  In addition, the timetable for the electricity supply should be in sync with the actual dismantlement of all North Korean nuclear programs, including a highly-enriched uranium program, not a ‘mere gesture’ to abandon such programs or a ‘freeze’ on them. Furthermore, there should be no disruption in ROK-U.S. cooperation.  It is still unknown how the U.S. has reacted to our plan to provide electricity to the North, even though the U.S. seems unlikely to oppose the ROKG plan, given its position that it will establish diplomatic relations with the North if the communist state completes the dismantlement of its nuclear programs.  The problem now is what kind of steps the North takes for the dismantlement of its nuclear programs constitute the ‘complete dismantlement.’  The ROK and the U.S. should share clear guidelines on this matter.  Otherwise, we might be playing into the hands of North Korea.”


"ROK’s ‘Important Proposal’ Should Not Become Another Geneva Accord"


Independent Dong-A Ilbo held (7/13):  “Since this proposal presupposes ‘nuclear dismantlement,’ it has a stronger condition than the 1994 U.S.-North Korea Geneva Agreed Framework which was based on ‘nuclear freeze.’  However, this proposal would be meaningless unless Pyongyang truly puts its agreement to dismantle its nuclear programs into action, as was the case with the failed Geneva Accord....  North Korea might seek recognition as a nuclear state or flatly deny the existence of its highly enriched uranium-based nuclear program during the upcoming Six-Party Talks slated for late this month.  In that case, the ROKG should not be swayed by an idea of ‘national cooperation’ but rather join forces with relevant countries to convey the clear message to the North that this round of the Six-Party Talks will be its last chance to renounce its nuclear ambitions.  Above all, it is questionable whether this so-called ‘Marshall Plan’ for North Korea would actually bring about changes to the tattered North Korean economy.  The Marshall Plan the U.S. devised for Europe shortly after World War II did not work in socialist economies.  Unless the North commits itself to economic reform and openness, it would ultimately be difficult for the North to revive its moribund economy.”


"Seoul’s Plan To Supply Electricity To N. Korea Should Lead Pyongyang To Dismantle Nuclear Programs"


Moderate Hankook Ilbo concluded (7/13):  “It is questionable whether North Korea will accept the ROK’s proposal to supply electricity to it, considering that the ROK will have sole control of the power transmission, drastically increasing the North’s dependence on the ROK....  However, given that the North’s abandonment of nuclear weapons and the ensuing aid conditional on such a North Korean move are based on mutual trust, there will be no reason for the North to refuse the proposal.  Furthermore, the North should note that the proposal could be combined with U.S.-led security assurances for it.  Now the ball is in North Korea’s court again.  The North decided to return to the Six-Party Talks a few days ago and is currently showing a very active attitude toward expanding economic cooperation with the ROK. If this desirable development is to bears fruit, it is indispensable for Pyongyang to make a strategic decision to give up its nuclear programs.”


"Better Economic Ties"


Moderate Hankook Ilbo contended (7/12):  "The 12-point agreement between the two Koreas yesterday deserves special attention by expanding economic cooperation to a new dimension. Also noticeable was the change in the attitude of North Korean officials toward a more positive and reciprocal tone....  This, together with Pyongyang’s decision on Sunday to return to the six-way talks, is hoped to bring the sprit of cooperation and reconciliation back to the Korean Peninsula. What’s left now is how to maintain it for multilateral nuclear talks....  Pyongyang is urged to stop linking the nuclear issue to inter-Korean affairs. The two Koreas ought to push ahead with economic and human exchanges regardless of political and military tension. And they should find a breakthrough in nuclear deadlock out from cooperation in other areas. Neighbors are advised to endorse this as an emergency exit strategy....  Pyongyang has no alternative but to accept massive aid through normalizing relationships with the outside world. Needless to say, the first step is abandonment of its nuclear ambition....  The isolated regime has earned some time with additional food aid of 500,000 tons from the South and the scheduled resumption of the nuclear dialogue. But a true solution will not come until the North opens up and reforms the country and gives up its dream of being a nuclear power."


"North Korea Has Bought One Last Chance"


Conservative Chosun Ilbo commented (7/11):  "Even if the six-party talks resume, the prospects of the talks are by no means bright as nothing has changed in the fundamental positions of the U.S. and North Korea.  Should the North persist with antics like trying to convert the talks into mutual disarmament negotiations while boasting about how it is a nuclear state, things would only get worse.  It is also important for the North to admit the existence of a highly enriched uranium-based nuclear program.  On the other hand, Washington needs to show some flexibility in negotiations while remaining focused on the central goal of getting the North to abandon its nuclear program.  A resumption of the talks itself does not mean much.  Unless the talks achieve substantial progress, there will be much talk that they are a waste of time. Then, the UNSC would be waiting, and with it the prospect of sanctions.  The next round of the six-party talks is the last chance to resolve the nuclear dispute through dialogue."


"Now Progress Needed"


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo stated (7/11):  "It is truly fortunate that North Korea has announced it will return to the six-party talks in the last week of July.  Had the talks been delayed further, their purpose might have been lost, heightening tensions on the peninsula.  As the direction of the nuclear crisis again heads toward negotiations, we hope to see practical results this time.  North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told Unification Minister Chung Dong-young that, ‘Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the will of the country’s founder Kim Il-sung.’  It is time for the North to demonstrate this with action.  If it resorts to a tactic of securing economic aid while making its possession of nuclear weapons an established fact, it won’t succeed.  No other countries will accept it. Pyongyang has insisted that it needs nuclear weapons to protect its regime, but it is because of nuclear weapons that its economy is ruined and its diplomatic isolation has deepened.  Now that Seoul has made what it calls an ‘important proposal’ involving large-scale economic aid, and is consulting with Washington about it, the North’s choice is self-evident.  It can do nothing else but abandon its nuclear program.  Both Seoul and Washington should show firm determination.  They must provide incentives that the North cannot help but accept.  They should have a response ready for the North’s demand for mutual disarmament talks. It is also important that both Seoul and Washington cooperate completely and avoid discord.  Practical progress should be made at this meeting, as the talks’ failure could lead to a deeper crisis on the peninsula.  The ROKG must maintain cohesive cooperation with the other participating countries and play the role of coordinator."


"Breakthrough On The Nuclear Issue Required"


Independent Dong-A Ilbo expressed the view (7/11):  "What is important now is how many tangible results the upcoming six-party talks will produce. Some in the USG are already saying that, ‘If there is even no progress this time, we will follow another path,’ which implies that Washington may abandon further diplomatic efforts.  The North must bear this in mind.  A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman announced yesterday that the North will do its best to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  It is only natural then for it to scrap its self-claimed nuclear weapons and materials and to seek economic aid and security assurances in return.  The U.S. had proposed a ‘June Initiative’ which links the North’s nuclear freeze and compensation during the third round of the six-party talks held last year, and the ROK is currently presenting the so-called ‘important proposal’ to offer its own measures for aid to the North.  Taking this into consideration, these proposals must lead to substantial negotiations during the upcoming talks in a practical manner.  Above all, both Seoul and Washington must be firm in not giving in to Pyongyang’s demands if it once again avoids or attempts to delay the talks.”


"Last Chance"


Kim Young-hui said in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (7/11):   "After many twists and turns, the last chance has finally been open for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.  Why is the fourth round of the six-party talks slated for the end of this month the last chance?  Suppose that the long-stalled talks would end without any progress toward the resolution of the nuclear issue.  It would bring the victory to military hardliners within the North Korean regime who claim that development and possession of nuclear weapons is the only way for the regime to survive.  During the remaining term of the Bush administration, its North Korean policy would be determined by Neocons arguing that the only way to block Pyongyang’s nuclear development is to isolate the North from the international community through strict economic sanctions, if not preemptive attacks on North Korean nuclear facilities.  If the situation goes this way, not only North Korea-U.S. relations but also inter-Korean and ROK-U.S. relations would be evidently faced with extreme tension.  However, the resumption of the six-party talks does not automatically mean the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved.  Pyongyang and Washington have a long way to go before narrowing their differences over nuclear disarmament....  'Long and winding negotiations' are expected.  There are also so many variables to the talks.  Kim Jong-il’s definite decision is needed.  If the resumed six-party talks makes progress to the point where North Korea dismantles its nuclear development within three months in exchange for security assurances and normal relations with the U.S. and even Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly President Kim Yong-nam participates in the APEC summit in November as an observer, it will mark a significant milestone in ending the Cold War and establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula."




INDIA:  "Yen For Pyongyang"


The nationalist Hindustan Times declared (7/15):  "South Korea's offer last Monday to supply a vast amount of electrical power to the North--in return for Pyongyang dismantling its nuclear weapons program--brings fresh hope to efforts to resolve the crisis on the Korean peninsula. Seoul proposes to string power lines across the tense border and distribute up to 2,000 MW of electricity to the energy starved regions inside the North. With the North desperately looking for power to run its homes and factories, the Kim Jong II regime would be well advised to accept Seoul's overture....  But Seoul has done well not to let such issues hijack the all-important negotiations, which broke down last year when North Korea pulled out saying it was stockpiling atomic weapons to defend itself from the US. Since then, it had denounced all efforts to multilateralize the issue, playing mind games by withdrawing from negotiations indefinitely, but not abandoning them completely.  This was a tactic to win economic incentives from Seoul and Beijing to coax it back to the negotiating table and dilute US demands for the complete dismantling of North's nuclear program. In fact, North Korea's nod to sit at the round table probably has a lot to do with Washington's allegation that it sold enriched uranium to Libya. For this undermines Pyongyang's claim that its nuclear arsenal is defensive, and could escalate its row with the US to a dangerous new level. Hopefully, the offer from Seoul will call the North's bluff, taking away the fig leaf of civilian power production that Pyongyang has used to cover its secretive nuclear weapons program, and make the next round of talks more meaningful.”




CANADA:  "Patience In Korea"


The liberal Toronto Star opined (7/12):  "The decision by North Korea to return to six-nation talks on its nuclear program is a victory--albeit a muted one--for good old-fashioned diplomacy....  North Korea's main grievance has been that the most recent American offer of financial aid and energy assistance in return for Pyongyang abandoning its nuclear-weapons program was inadequate. Washington, rightly suspicious after North Korea's repeated provocations, was in no mood to sweeten the offer. The result was a dangerous stalemate. South Korea decided to act on its own, making a new, more generous offer last month that could serve as the basis for an agreement if North Korea returned to the talks. When the North replied favourably, Seoul informed Washington, setting the stage for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's announcement Sunday in Beijing that talks would resume this month....  [A] deal with North Korea remains a long shot. But Washington's patient diplomacy and willingness to work with regional allies like South Korea and China contrasts with its rush to war in Iraq, a country that turned out not to possess weapons of mass destruction after all. As Churchill said, 'To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.'"



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