The United States will hold another round of talks with East Asian countries next week on how to engage North Korea over its nuclear weapons program -- the latest in a series of seemingly interminable discussions on the matter, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Friday.
U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy Glyn Davies is slated to travel to Beijing on Tuesday to meet with China's senior nuclear negotiator, Wu Dawei. After that, Davies will travel to South Korea and Japan for further discussions on North Korea, wrapping up his Asia tour on Nov. 25, according to a U.S. State Department announcement.
Wu was in Washington just a few weeks ago to meet with Davies. The Chinese diplomat reportedly offered some suggestions of things North Korea could do in order for the long-stalled multinational aid-for-denuclearization negotiations to be resumed. Unnamed diplomatic insiders, however, said the Obama administration refused to accept anything less than its long-standing demand that Pyongyang offer hardcore proof of its willingness to permanently give up its nuclear weapons program.
In spite of China's concerted efforts to bring about a resumption of the six-nation nuclear talks, North Korea through its actions is not indicating it is especially interested in returning to negotiations at this time, according to Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow for Korea Studies Scott Snyder.
In recent months and weeks, Pyongyang has been seen to be growing its nuclear weapons program -- restarting a formerly dismantled plutonium-production reactor, expanding its atomic testing grounds and building new facilities at its long-range missile launch site. At the same time, the North has said it is willing to return to nuclear talks with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States -- but only if there are no preconditions.
"I think that it's pretty clear at this moment that the D.P.R.K. publicly continues to say the same thing over and over again that it would not accept preconditions," Snyder told Yonhap. "[This] suggests that they are not interested right now in coming back to the six-party talks."
A senior government official separately told Yonhap participants in the six-nation negotiations have not yet aligned their views on how the talks should be reconstituted.
"I would say it make take some time as the countries continue to narrow their differences on the preconditions for resumption," the anonymous official said.