Sat, July 10, 2010
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UN statement to help DPRK nuclear talks

2010-07-10 07:03:16 GMT2010-07-10 15:03:16 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

The UN Security Council's adoption on Friday of a statement on the sinking of a Republic of Korea (ROK) warship could shift the focus to nuclear disarmament talks, said a political expert.

"This bodes well for the Six-Party Talks, in the way the wording stresses peace and security in Northeast Asia," said Baek Seung-joo of the state-affiliated Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul.

Diplomats at the UN said the draft statement circulated on Thursday by the United States condemned what it called an attack leading to the sinking of the Cheonan, which killed 46 ROK sailors. However, it stopped short of blaming the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The conclusion of a month-long diplomacy led by ROK and the US with a council president's statement will also likely mean the leveling off of tensions fuelled by threats of war on the Korean Peninsula.

The draft has been approved by the five permanent council members, including China. It was approved by all the 15 member states.

The ROK, Japan and the US already have sanctions in place aimed at punishing the DPRK after the sinking of the corvette and Seoul may impose more sanctions.

The DPRK denies it was involved in any way in the sinking, saying the accusation is a fabrication by the ROK aimed at politically damaging Pyongyang.

In a turnabout, the DPRK proposed on Friday to hold high-level military talks with the US on Tuesday to discuss the ship's sinking. Analysts have said the DPRK would eventually try to talk its way out of the stalemate.

At critical moments in the past, the DPRK always proposes direct talks with the US, said Huang Youfu, director of the Institute of Korean Studies at Beijing-based Central University for Nationalities.

Criticism from the international community, no matter how mild, is still a blow to the DPRK, whose economy is in a dire situation. The nation thinks the best way out is to talk directly with the US, Huang said.

But Huang said the US was unlikely to accept the DPRK proposal, at least not without the ROK's consent.

He added that Russia and China have made efforts to prevent the already tense situation in the Korean Peninsula from intensifying. China maintains that the peninsula should remain nuclear-free.

The Six-Party Talks with the DPRK and ROK, the US, Japan, Russia and China have been stalled since late 2007.

A core agreement to compensate Pyongyang in return for moves to end its nuclear program appeared to lose any relevance as the DPRK tested a long-range missile and set off a nuclear device in 2009, drawing more UN sanctions.

Analysts said those sanctions pushed the DPRK's failed economy deeper into hardship and drove Pyongyang's leaders to take provocative actions to divert attention from domestic woes and boost the stakes for disarmament talks.

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