Importance of Six-Party Talks

By Sun Ru
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, November 5, 2010
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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) released the results of its investigation into the sinking of Cheonan, a corvette of the Republic of Korea (ROK), on Tuesday, describing an earlier international inquiry report as the "most hideous conspiratorial farce in history".

Before the release of its investigation results, the DPRK said it was ready to return to the Six-Party Talks. Although the United States, the ROK and Japan have been urging the DPRK to do so, they now insist that the talks can only be resumed if the DPRK makes compromises such as holding a bilateral dialogue with the ROK, apologizing for the Cheonan incident and shutting down its nuclear facilities.

The US and the ROK have rejected China's three-step proposal for reopening the Six-Party Talks, too. China's proposal included bilateral talks between the US and the DPRK, a meeting of the heads of delegation of the six parties (Russia is the other party) followed by a comprehensive Six-Party Talks.

The US-ROK-Japan preconditions for resuming the talks have blocked the way back to the table. Their preconditions, especially linking Seoul-Pyongyang bilateral dialogue with the Six-Party talks, undermine the main objective of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The Six-Party Talks, as history shows, have helped overcome a lot of differences among the countries. In the absence of significant progress on the denuclearization issue and the alleged abduction of Japanese nationals by the DPRK, Tokyo once refused to normalize relations with Pyongyang and offer it the promised energy aid. The deadlock was broken only through multinational negotiations.

Hence, the resumption of the Six-Party Talks calls for the joint efforts of all the six countries. If the DPRK is required to agree to dismantle its nuclear programs, the other parties are required to fulfill their part of the promise.

The US, the ROK and Japan have stuck to their stance apparently because of the Cheonan incident. Soon after the incident, the US and the ROK sounded reluctant to resume the multilateral talks, accused the DPRK of aggression, imposed a series of sanctions on it and launched a global anti-Pyongyang campaign.

The two countries even engaged in a series of joint military drills to threaten the DPRK.

The US and the ROK insist on a Seoul-Pyongyang dialogue instead of bilateral talks between Washington and Pyongyang, as proposed by China.

After Japan's former prime minister Yukio Hatoyama asked the US to shift its air base from Okinawa, Washington persuaded Seoul to exert pressure on Tokyo to change its stance. The Cheonan incident came as a diversion, which the US exploited not only to maintain its base in Okinawa, but also to fan passions against the DPRK. Unhappy with China's position in the Cheonan incident, the US and the ROK even tried to force it to support their "cause", failing which they rejected its proposal.

From what the US and the ROK have been saying since last year, it appears that they believe the DPRK will not abandon its nuclear program now and hence the Six-Party Talks are an effort in futility.

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