South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator Wi Sung-lac met with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho in Beijing on Wednesday for a second round of talks about the north’s nuclear program. The two last met in Bali, Indonesia on July 22.
But three hours of talks at an exclusive private members' club produced no results. The North Koreans merely repeated previous statements calling for unconditional resumption of six-party nuclear disarmament talks, according to a South Korean government official said.
They said the six-party talks would allow "all parties to discuss all issues," including the North's uranium enrichment program.
The South pointed out that the North violated statements from the six-party talks on Sept. 19, 2005 and Feb. 13, 2007 by resuming nuclear arms development and starting the uranium enrichment program, and insisted the six-party talks can only resume after the North has fulfilled its obligations.
Officials in Seoul nonetheless claimed the latest talks were not necessarily a failure. Although they produced no tangible results, the two sides were able to "remove some misunderstanding between them," one official said, and if the dialogue continues, it may be possible to resume the six-party talks at some stage.
"At the latest talks, our side explained the government's 'grand bargain' proposal to the North once again. And the North Korean side apparently had a better understanding of the proposal than during talks in Bali," a senior government official claimed. President Lee Myung-bak last year proposed the "grand bargain" whereby North Korea could expect comprehensive rewards if it abandons its nuclear program as well as reforming and opening up.
Wednesday's talks also touched on a gas pipeline that would run from Russia to South Korea through North Korea.
Predictably, the North refused when the South demanded it apologize for its attacks on the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island last year.