South Korea’s senior nuclear negotiator is set to travel to China in the coming days for talks on the long-running standstill over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Sunday.
The forthcoming trip by Cho Tae-yong comes on the heels of his visit to the United States last week, where he discussed coordinating positions on Pyongyang with counterparts from the U.S. and Japanese governments.
An anonymous diplomatic insider said Cho likely will be updated by senior Chinese nuclear diplomat Wu Dawei on his visit to North Korea last week. There have been rumors Wu used his trip to tell North Korea that it needs to alter its position on its nuclear program if it wishes the moribund multinational aid-for-denuclearization process to be resumed.
Seoul, Washington and Tokyo argue Pyongyang has not gone far enough in demonstrating its commitment to permanent nuclear disarmament. The North reportedly has offered to implement a moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile launches if the six-nation negotiations are resumed. The talks involve China, Japan, both Koreas, Russia and the United States and were last held nearly five years ago.
No real progress has been seen toward restarting the talks, despite last week’s flurry of diplomatic meetings on the matter, according to a high-ranking source in South Korea.
“Headway may be made in slow stages instead of one big leap,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the South Korean government on Monday opened an international defense conference that was expected to include a focus on cyber security and threats emanating from North Korea, Yonhap separately reported. The second annual Seoul Defense Dialogue will include participation from senior military officials, vice defense ministers and security advisers from 23 countries, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry.