[As US negotiator Stephen W. Bosworth begins discussions with DPRK first vice foreign minister Kim Kye-gwan in Geneva today, CanKor Brain Trust member Jeremy Paltiel, Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, checks the Chinese media for indicators that re-engagement on the nuclear issue might actually get off the runway this time around. --CanKor.]
Li’s mission is explicitly calculated to jump-start the Six Party Talks , and for the first time, China has spoken of playing a “coordinating” xietiao role. (李克强将访问朝鲜、韩国) Li was met at Pyongyang’s airport by Vice Premier Kang Sok Ju,and the proceeded to Mansongdae where he met with Premier Choe Yong Rim, who had visited China only a month ago. (Hu Jintao Meets with DPRK Premier Choe Yong Rim, Member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee) Choe mentioned explicitly the implementation of 19 September 2005 Joint Statement, though not the 13 February 2007 Action Plan. (李克强与朝鲜内阁总理会谈 支持尽早重启六方会谈)
Other commentators have deduced that the momentum for re-engagement on the nuclear issue is gathering force (See Jeffrey Lewis, Peter Hayes and Scott Bruce “Kim Jong Il’s Nuclear Diplomacy and the US Opening: Slow Motion Six-Party Engagement”), as newly-named US negotiator Glyn Davis prepares to meet North Korean counterparts in Geneva.
China is stepping up its activity on the Korean peninsula at a time when China’s relations with neighbouring countries and the US in Southeast and East Asia have been tarnished due to China’s aggressive stance on its maritime borders, both in relation to Japan and in the South China Sea. It has recently attempted to patch up relations with Vietnam (李克强与朝鲜内阁总理会谈 支持尽早重启六方会谈) and with Southeast Asia, and will no doubt seek to enhance the reputation of its diplomacy by trying to engineer a breakthrough by re-starting the Six Party Talks.
UPDATE 25 October 2011:
- Nuclear Talks With North Korea Begin in Geneva (nytimes.com)
- Chinese leader urges North Korea to better US ties (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- US-NK Talks Coming Soon by Chris Nelson (CanKor.ca)
- Russia Gets Into the Act, by Jeremy Paltiel (CanKor.ca)