December 11, 2009 12:23
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth returned empty-handed from a three-day visit to North Korea. But he said he had "extensive and useful talks" with North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju, identifying "some common ground" on the need for and the role of the six-party talks and the importance of the implementation of the 2005 statement of principles.
However, Bosworth said it remains to be seen when and how North Korea will return to the six-party talks, and that further negotiations would be necessary with South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. In other words, tough negotiations remain.
Regarding North Korea's demand for Washington to sign a peace treaty to replace the armistice that halted the Korean War, Bosworth said all of the participants are ready to discuss a peace regime once the six party talks resume. The Sep. 19 statement of principles adopted during the six-party talks back in 2005 stipulates that negotiations will take place over a permanent peace framework on the Korean Peninsula. The offer by the U.S. does therefore not go beyond the parameters of the terms agreed so far.
North Korea will try to use the peace treaty as a reason for returning to the six-party talks, and once the negotiations resume, the North could even demand a withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea. A peace treaty should be discussed between North and South Korea, with the U.S. and China playing supporting roles. Seoul must come up with compelling logic to convince the U.S., China, Japan and Russia and map out precautionary measures.
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