The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Saturday said it welcomed the reopening of six-party talks in the coming days in Beijing, wishing to resolve issues that hinder the progress of the talks.
The DPRK believes that the upcoming six-nation talks should have two tasks. One is to "ensure the speed of economic compensation" to the DPRK as promised by the other five parties, and the other is to "achieve common understanding of the issue of verification," said a spokesman of the DPRK Foreign Ministry in a statement.
The disablement process of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities fell far behind the schedule set by a six-party agreement reached in October 2007. The DPRK, under the "action for action" principle, slowed down the process because of sluggish economic compensation, the spokesman said.
The economic compensation issue was complicated by Japan's refusal to provide its share of the aid to the DPRK until, as the Japanese side claimed, the abduction issue makes progress.
The DPRK has admitted kidnapping 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s. It has returned five abductees to Japan, while saying the eight others were dead.
But Japan insists that the DPRK is hiding survivors and abducted more people than it has acknowledged.
The DPRK was angry at Japan's stance and announced Saturday that it would not have contacts with Japan in the upcoming nuclear talks as Japan has "neither justification nor qualification to participate in the talks."
Still, the economic compensation is unlikely to be deadlocked. Some other countries outside the six-party rim are considering to give economic aid to the DPRK under the framework of the disablement-for-aid deal. The DPRK has signaled willingness to embrace such a solution, saying it does not matter who provides the aid.
On the verification issue, the DPRK and the United States were at odds on what was agreed when U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill visited Pyongyang in early October.
After reaching an agreement on verification procedures, Washington announced it dropped the DPRK from the terrorism blacklist, in response the DPRK reversed plans to restart its plutonium-producing nuclear plants.
However, the DPRK announced later it never agreed to samples of atomic material to be taken away in mid-November.
A commentary by the official KCNA news agency on Nov. 24, said that the DPRK "agreed to conduct the verification through field visit, confirmation of documents and interviews with technicians and carry out the verification after the economic compensation was completely rounded off."
The commentary said this is "utmost magnanimity the DPRK can show under the present situation where deep-rooted mistrust and the relations of hostility have persisted between the DPRK and the U.S."
It indicated that the precondition for DPRK's concession on gathering samples depends on whether Washington would stride forward on bilateral ties.
Hill and his DPRK counterpart Kim Kye Gwan held talks in Singapore on Thursday and Friday, focusing on the verification issue. But they failed to reach a deal on sampling.
"I'm sure the negotiations will be as usual, difficult," said Hill after meeting with Kim, foreseeing the upcoming nuclear talks in Beijing.
Washington seemed to be uncompromising on the sampling issue and a "common understanding" between Pyongyang and Washington is unlikely under the outgoing Bush administration.
Analysts are looking forward to a breakthrough, which they say may not be a mission impossible in the era of Barack Obama who is due to take office of U.S. president on Jan. 20 next year.
(Xinhua News Agency November 8, 2008)