Thursday, July 27, 2006

North Korea Talks Without North Korea

The U.S. will hold talks concerning North Korea, but North Korea will not be invited. Instead, Condoleezza Rice will meet with representatives of seven other nations during the ASEAN talks in Kuala Lumpur.

Having successfully led the passage of a U.N. resolution condemning the July 5 North Korean missile tests, the task now is to convince the world to do more than talk. This is always the hard part. It's simple enough to get the U.N. to say something; it's nearly impossible to get them to do something.

"We are prepared to have as many bilateral meetings as they can stand," [Assistant Secretary of State Chris] Hill said.

But for the time being, Rice has "zero plans" to meet with the North Koreans who are also at the ASEAN conference, he said. "What we are not prepared to do is let them jettison the six party talks which would be moot while they try to turn this into a bilateral problem.... We do not have any intention of engaging them bilaterally, until they are back in the diplomatic game."

This puts the North Koreans in a nice little bind. They'll have the bilateral talks they want provided they do something they manifestly do not want.

It's still a long time before anything meaningful might happen to Pyonyang, and China, Russia, and South Korea will still have many opportunities to derail the process.


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