I. United States
1. ROK-DPRK Talks
The Associated Press (“TWO KOREAS AGREE TO REOPEN LIAISON OFFICES,” Seoul, 7/31/00) reported that the DPRK and the ROK agreed on Monday to reopen border liaison offices and to reconnect a railway linking their capitals that has been cut for 55 years. Negotiators in the cabinet-level talks also agreed to hold regular high-level discussions to implement a pact reached at the summit meeting of their leaders in June. They also said that they hoped to prepare the way for reunification. The liaison offices will be reopened at the border village of Panmunjom on August 15. The statement said the talks on reconnecting the rail line will begin at an earliest possible date. [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for July 31, 2000.]
The International Herald Tribune (Don Kirk, “KOREANS ACT TO BUILD ON GOODWILL OF PEACE TALKS,” Seoul, 7/31/00) reported that negotiators from the DPRK and the ROK announced on July 30 a series of specific agreements. The agreements, reached in talks in Seoul over the weekend, signaled the desire of both Koreas to keep up the momentum of both the summit meeting and the DPRK’s debut last week at the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF). According to the ROK’s Yonhap news agency, the DPRK’s chief delegate, Jon Kum-jin, said that he was “convinced we will be able to give the nation a nice present tomorrow” when the two countries release a joint statement. However, ROK Unification Minister and delegation leader Park Jae-kyu indicated that the two sides were not necessarily in complete agreement on all points when he said that he expected “good results under the spirit of friendly compromises.” Park stressed that the two sides were “of one mind when it comes to the desire to faithfully implement the June 15 joint declaration.” Kim Soon-kyu, the ROK vice minister of culture, said that both sides had “many things in common” even though they had to “coordinate on the wording of what we’ve agreed on.” [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for July 31, 2000.]
2. US-DPRK Talks
The Washington Post (Doug Struck, “NORTH KOREAN MISSILE STANCE UNCLEAR,” Bangkok, 7/29/00) reported that DPRK foreign minister Paek Nam-sun met US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright on July 28 in the highest diplomatic contact ever between the two countries. However, Albright said that she “was not able to glean” any information about the DPRK’s offer to stop building ballistic missiles in exchange for foreign help in launching scientific satellites. Despite that failure, Albright said that her meeting with Paek was “a substantively modest but symbolically historic step” for the two countries. She said after leaving the meeting, “Our purpose was to get acquainted, to reaffirm our interest in more normal ties. I said we were encouraged by [the DPRK’s] recent efforts to expand diplomatic contacts, and by its moratorium on long-range missile launches.” Albright said that she remained “realistic in expectations” after the meeting, but added, “I’m also somewhat more hopeful than before about the prospects for long-term stability on the Korean peninsula.” The DPRK issued a brief statement saying that Paek and Albright “deliberated on ways to expand relations” and “reached a view that the recent developments in the Korean peninsula created a positive atmosphere.” [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for July 31, 2000.]
The US Department of State, Office of International Information Programs (“ALBRIGHT JULY 28 PRESS STAKEOUT ON US-DPRK BILATERAL,” 7/28/00) reported that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that her meeting with DPRK Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sum on July 28 “constitutes a substantively modest but symbolically historic step away from the sterility and hostility of the past and towards a more direct and promising approach to resolving differences and establishing common ground.” Albright said that she and Paek discussed the prospect of DPRK sending a delegation to the US, but added that no decision will be made on that for a while. Albright said that she and Paek had not made any concrete plans as far as following up on their bilateral meeting, but that they did speak about seeing each other at the next United Nations General Assembly.
3. DPRK Missile Program
The Washington Post (Doug Struck, “NORTH KOREAN MISSILE STANCE UNCLEAR,” Bangkok, 7/29/00) reported that diplomats who met DPRK Paek Nam-sun at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF) said that he declined to confirm the report by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the DPRK had offered to halt its missile program in exchange for aid in launching satellites. Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy said, “I asked the same pointed question, but [Paek] said he was not at liberty to say. It would have been nice to have gotten an answer.” A senior US official said that when US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright pressed Paek on the matter in their meeting, “the foreign minister declined to provide further clarification.” US President Bill Clinton said that he remained confused about the terms of the purported offer after a meeting with Putin last week at the Group of Eight economic summit. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said, “I’m really not sure what happened. Frankly, I think North Korea is getting caught up in all the emotion [of its diplomatic emergence], and I’m not sure their policy has caught up. They are trying to buy some time and leverage on the issue.”
Agence France Presse (“US FOOD AID TO NKOREA SUCCESSFUL EVEN IF IT FEEDS THE MILITARY,” Washington, 7/28/00) reported that US Secretary of Defense William Cohen said on July 28 that the US food aid program to the DPRK has been successful even if some of the food might be feeding that country’s soldiers. Cohen said the aid “has been successful in alleviating the suffering of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people in North Korea.” He noted that the US “cannot control with precision whether or not some of that (food aid) has been diverted to the military, but I think that’s a reasonable expectation. But the basic purpose of the program is to prevent mass starvation. I believe it’s been successful in doing that.”
4. US Policy toward DPRK
The Los Angeles Times published an opinion article by Leon V. Sigal, Director of the Northeast Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York (“A ‘ROGUE STATE’ THAT WANTS RESPECTABILITY,” 7/27/00) which said that the time is now time for the US to work at ending the enmity with the DRPK. Sigal argued that missile defense enthusiasts have been demanding the deployment of a National Missile Defense (NMD) by exaggerating the missile threat from so-called “rogue states.” He stated, “North Korea is Exhibit A in their gallery of rogues. Name-calling predisposes the U.S. to adopt a coercive approach with North Korea instead of a cooperative one. Rogues are criminals, after all, and the way to treat criminals is to punish them.” However, he continues, the problem is that the DPRK has been trying to end its life-long enmity with the US since the late 1980s. He wrote, “Its missile behavior is evidence of that. Had Pyongyang wanted missiles worth deploying or selling, it should have been testing and perfecting its two medium-range and one longer-range missiles. Yet it has conducted just two medium-range missile tests of its own in the past decade–both of them failures–and has never tested the longer- range missile.” Sigal added that removing the “U.S. military threat” to the DPRK would not require withdrawing US forces, but merely a change in the political relationship with the US. He said, “Once we no longer regard one another as enemies, the troops are no longer a threat. By contrast, withdrawal of U.S. forces would still leave the North at risk from U.S. forces offshore.”
5. US-Japan Talks
The Associated Press (Gary Schaefer, “ALBRIGHT URGES CAUTION ON N. KOREA,” Tokyo, 7/31/00) reported that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori on Monday that caution is still needed in dealing with the DPRK. She told Mori, “There have been positive developments, but concerns remain and we need to be cautious in our thinking.” She also told him that the US remains concerned about the threat that the DPRK missile and nuclear programs pose to stability in Asia. She was quoted by Kazuhiko Koshikawa, the prime minister’s deputy press secretary, as saying, “We have to have balanced euphoria in terms of relations with North Korea. There are some positive developments but we still have to be cautious.” In an interview published Monday by the Nihon Keizai business newspaper, Albright said that the US could support the DPRK’s becoming a member of international lending institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if progress is made defusing those security issues. Mori told Albright that Japan will pursue the negotiations “energetically,” saying that DPRK issues “shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
6. US Missile Defense
The Washington Post (Doug Struck, “ASIAN FORUM ENDS IN CHORUS OF CRITICISM OF U.S. MISSILE DEFENSE PLAN,” Bangkok, 7/30/00) reported that US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright left the ASEAN Region Forum (ARF) meeting in Bangkok on July 30 after receiving numerous criticisms for the planned US national missile defense system. PRC Foreign Minster Tang Jiaxuan said at the final news conference of ARF to say, “We believe this idea of the United States’ will inevitably support a new round of arms race and will compromise international peace and stability. This issue is by no means a dispute between China and the United States, but between the United States and the international community.” Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy said as he left the ARF meeting, “It takes time to bring [the US] around. Perhaps they will begin to listen to the Greek chorus on this issue.” [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for July 31, 2000.]
II. Republic of Korea
1. Inter-Korean Talks
The Korea Herald (Shin Yong-bae, “TWO KOREAS AGREE TO REOPEN LIAISON OFFICES, MEET REGULARLY; DECLARE WEEK OF NATIONAL RECONCILIATION AROUND AUG. 15,” Seoul, 07/31/00) reported that the ROK and the DPRK on July 30 agreed to resume the operation of their liaison offices and declare a “week of national reconciliation” to mark Liberation Day on August 15. The two Koreas reached these and other accords at high-level talks here to discuss how to implement the agreement reached between their leaders at the June summit. The delegations from the both sides also agreed to celebrate the week surrounding Liberation Day by holding respective cultural programs to uphold the June summit and to promote inter-Korean reconciliation. During the period, the two Koreas will also exchange 100 people from each side for reunions with their family members. In the afternoon session, both sides tackled issues of inter-Korean economic, social and cultural cooperation and of establishing a military hot line to build mutual confidence. ROK officials proposed reopening suspended railway links and launching a joint project to prevent flooding of the Imjin River, which runs through the inter-Korean border. They also agreed to regularize the ministerial-level talks in an effort to form a dialogue framework.
The Korea Herald (“YOUNG N.K. DELEGATES SIGNAL GENERATIONAL CHANGE,” Seoul, 07/31/00) reported that the ROK and the DPRK share similar generational changes in leadership in various sectors of society. Ryang Tae- hyon, who joined the DPRK team as a cabinet secretariat official, is only 37 year old. ROK observers said that it appeared “very exceptional” for the DPRK to dispatch such a young official for talks with the ROK. While talking with chief DPRK delegate Jon Kum-chol, ROK Unification Minister Park Jae-kyu said, “Young people in the ‘386- generation’ have complained about not being included (in the talks).” The “386 generation” is a term coined in the ROK which means people in their 30s, who entered universities in the ’80s and were born in the ’60s. Jon said, “It has just begun for us,” indicating that people in their 30s are actively participating in the DPRK government.
The Korea Herald (“KIM TO WELCOME N.K. GROUP TO MINISTERIAL TALKS AT CHONG WA DAE,” Seoul, 07/31/00) reported that a presidential office source said that ROK President Kim Dae-jung will invite the visiting DPRK delegation to Chong Wa Dae tomorrow. The source said, “President Kim will meet delegates of the two sides for about 30 minutes at Chong Wa Dae.”
2. DPRK Diplomacy
The Korea Herald (Shin Yong-bae, “NORTH KOREA GRABS SPOTLIGHT AT ARF, MAKES SUCCESSFUL DIPLOMATIC DEBUT,” Seoul, 07/29/00) reported that the DPRK grabbed the diplomatic spotlight during the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), making an aggressive showing at its first appearance at the Bangkok conference that ended on July 28. Diplomatic observers said that DPRK Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun was the biggest newsmaker among participating foreign ministers from 22 ARF member countries. He held face-to-face bilateral talks with his counterparts from 10 countries, including the ROK, Japan and the US. An analyst said, “In this sense, the ARF provided the North with chances to hold bilateral meetings with pro-Western nations in order to improve relations.” In addition to basking in the diplomatic spotlight, the DPRK also made a successful debut in international diplomacy, creating a few breakthroughs in a number of talks with Western countries.
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