North Koreans ready to rejoin nuclear talks


NORTH KOREAN leader Kim Jong-il has said his country will rejoin six-party talks on nuclear disarmament but has linked its participation to progress in talks with the United States.

During a meeting with visiting Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao, Mr Kim expressed his country’s “readiness to hold multilateral talks, depending on the outcome of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-US talks”, the Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch from Pyongyang.

North Korea declared the six-party talks, which include China, both Koreas, Russia, Japan and the US, “dead” earlier this year after the international community punished Pyongyang with UN sanctions for its long-range rocket test.

The talks are hosted by Beijing, North Korea’s only meaningful ally, and there is a suspicion that Mr Kim’s agreement to take part again in the six-party talks came as the result of pressure from China.

The strong statements from Mr Wen appear to bear this out.

“China is willing to make concerted efforts with the DPRK and other parties concerned to contribute to realising the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and maintaining peace, stability and development in the northeast Asian region,” Mr Wen said.

While North Korea’s signal of its readiness to participate is a breakthrough, the prospects for a successful outcome to talks, even the six-party talks, remain slim.

The main issue is not so much getting North Korea to the table, but changing its intractable stance at the talks.

Many analysts believe the North will not give up its nuclear capabilities now that it has them, especially as the military is so powerful in the running of North Korea.