Sunday, August 29, 2004

Ambassador Han Hopeful on Next Round of Six-Way Talk

Korea’s ambassador to the United States, Han Sung-joo said Saturday in a conference in New Jersey that because South Korea, the United States, Russia, and China were working hard, it was highly likely that the fourth round of six-party talks would be held in September as the fruit of multilateral efforts. Han noted that no one could know whether substantive progress would be made at the talks.

The ambassador a UC Berkeley Ph.D. said North Korea believes that the redeployment of U.S. forces in Korea might be in preparation to attack North Korea. In an article in Choson Ilbo, Han said it was hard to tell whether North Korea actually felt threatened by the U.S. or whether it was simply stalling ahead of the U.S. presidential election, but it was true that the preparations for the fourth round of talks have been difficult.

Han remarked that while one could possibly see that the offer made by the U.S. during the third round of six-party talks was the most concrete one it has made that represented a change in direction, North Korea viewed is as insincere and has been making negative statements about it.

I do find it interesting that the Han article failed to mention Japan’s role in the talks. Hardliners in Japan have opposed normalization of relations with the North and might be seen as taking a tougher stance against North Korea than the U.S.

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