Thursday, April 22, 2004


So reads the headline of a "news analysis" piece in the Korea Herald. What follows the headline is some of the more fluffy but empty reporting and analysis one can find:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's visit to China this week has breathed new life into hopes for peace on the Korean Peninsula, as analysts at home and abroad are now turning optimistic about the outcome of the ongoing nuclear row.
Kim met his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, Wednesday and the two leaders said they were committed to ending the dispute over North Korea's nuclear weapons peacefully through dialogue.

China's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui said yesterday that in dealing with world security challenges, both Asia and Europe must "uphold multilateralism and enhance international cooperation."
So Kim and Hu meet and have discussions on matters they choose not to reveal to the public except in standard diplomatic boilerplate about "peace" and "dialogue." What else are we to conclude but that this means a resolution of the nuclear issue is just around the corner?
"I think North Korea had something very significant to say this time. The top meetings of Kim and Hu (mean) there was a major agreement," said an Asia-Pacific analyst from Sweden who asked not to be named. "North Korea is almost ready to give up its nuclear ambitions and wants to get down to bargain, and Kim wants to convince China to help the Stalinist state when it comes to dealing with (the) U.S. standoff."
Well, I hate to break it to the anonymous Swedish analyst, but given that the DPRK has repeatedly expressed that it is paying close attention to the U.S. Presidential race, and given that Kerry recently declared
"his No. 1 priority if elected would be to change the approach to North Korea. He has criticized the administration's insistence on only negotiating with Pyongyang in a multilateral setting and has said he would engage immediately in direct talks if elected president.
why should we expect that the DPRK will submit to the results of multilateral talks that it has opposed and resented when the promise of bilateral talks (and the hope for a better deal) appears to be just around the corner?

UPDATE: Conrad reports that the honeymoon is already over. That didn't take long.

UPDATE II: On the other hand, unattributable scuttlebutt around DC is that the PRC did warn Kim Jong Il not to wait around until Kerry takes office because Kerry too is likely to end up supporting the dismantling of the North Korean nuclear program. This may be the case but I still conclude that the North Koreans probably feel that at the very least they have little to lose and potentially much to gain by waiting for Kerry.

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