Asia-Pacific

Viewpoints

Pyongyang Agrees to Six-Nation Talks

North Korean soldier
A North Korean soldier watches the groundbreaking ceremony for an industrial park in Kaesong, North Korea, on June 30, 2003. The industrial park is a joint project of South and North Korea (Photo: Ahn Young-joon/AFP-Getty Images).

Tokyo The Japan Times (independent-centrist, English-language), Aug. 5: The good news about North Korea is that it is now willing to talk in an expanded forum including Japan, South Korea, and Russia. Keeping the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons is a security imperative not only for the region but for the entire world. Therefore, the coming six-party meeting is welcome. No doubt it is the result of the policy of “dialogue and pressure.”

Seoul Dong-A Ilbo (independent), Aug. 8: Although Colin Powell’s proposal [of a written security guarantee to North Korea] fell short of meeting the North’s demand to sign a nonaggression pact, a written security guarantee...will have the same force as a nonaggression pact....If the North’s assertion that it will abandon its nuclear ambitions in return for its regime’s security guarantee is not a lie, Pyongyang should sincerely consider the U.S. proposal.

Shanghai Wen Hui Bao (pro-government monthly), Aug. 2: Over a long period of time, the international community has formed a rigid concept of North Korea, namely, the Pyongyang government “is irrational” in its operation. As a matter of fact, however, in most cases North Korea’s diplomacy displays a rationality unique to itself. Confronted with the nuclear threat from the United States, it is not necessarily insane if the North Korean side considers tit for tat by developing nuclear weapons for self-defense....The fact that North Korea is willing to participate in the six-party talks has clearly demonstrated a realistic rationality on its part.
—Shen Dingli

Beijing China Daily (state-run), Aug. 5: It is a huge concession made by Pyongyang from its previous firmly held stance for direct bilateral talks with the United States. But it may be too early to declare that the cloud of war over the Korean Peninsula brought about by the nuclear standoff between Pyongyang and Washington can possibly be dispersed. What is certain, however, is that it is an important part of the international community’s efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the situation.
—Wu Yixue

Athens Ta Nea (liberal), Aug. 8: North Korea, one of the very few remaining communist states, insists on developing nuclear weapons regardless of global reactions. A diplomatic solution of the problem is difficult, because on one hand the monolithic leadership of North Korea will want many “carrots” in order to be convinced to abandon its nuclear program, and on the other hand the war against Iraq has proved that it is quite difficult to see the American Pentagon erasing its targets from its war map.
—Kostas Betinakis

Auckland The New Zealand Herald (conservative), July 25: North Korea’s leaders have agreed to bilateral talks to defuse the crisis (after the country’s revelation of its nuclear capabilities, and President Bush’s branding of it as being part of an “axis of evil”). But this is only if the United States first swears to a nonaggression pact. The Americans have rejected that, and want China and Japan, and possibly South Korea, included in talks. Japan and China wait nervously, wanting neither a nuclear-armed Korean Peninsula nor a collapsed North Korean regime.
—Helen Tunnah

Beirut The Daily Star (independent, English-language), Aug. 3: At first sight, it might seem as though...Kim Jong-Il has, in a sudden burst of near-mythical courage, chosen to challenge the strongest power on Earth, as though he were inviting it to wage war. But a second, more discerning look reveals that Washington was the one to adopt a position of enmity toward Pyongyang first, and that North Korea’s position has been the natural response.
—Fahed Fanek

Sydney The Australian (conservative), July 17: China might prevail on Pyongyang not to go all the way in nuclear matters....It does not want Japan and South Korea to go nuclear in reaction to Pyongyang doing so, but this could be achieved either by getting North Korea to give up its nuclear program or simply by re-creating a Clintonian fudge, with Pyongyang taking the bribes but keeping its program going clandestinely.
—Greg Sheridan

New Delhi The Indian Express (liberal), July 30: The international community at large and the United Nations in particular appear to be overly sanguine about the situation, which is inexorably sliding into deeper confrontation, possibly leading to a shooting war. Even the exchange of nuclear weapons technologies and ballistic missiles between Pakistan and North Korea has not received the attention it deserves....We ourselves need to remember that North Korea’s supply of ballistic missiles for nuclear delivery to Pakistan has placed the whole of our country at risk from nuclear attack.

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