Good sign for Six-Party Talks

Updated: 2011-10-27 13:29

By Lu Chao (

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A day before representatives of the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) met in Geneva on Monday for their second direct talks, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang reached Pyongyang on a three-day visit. Li followed it up with a two-day visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) from Wednesday to improve DPRK-ROK relations and promote cooperation on the Korean Peninsula.

The DPRK and the ROK both are important and reliable neighbors of China, and Beijing has long-term and close high-level contacts with them. Undoubtedly Li's shuttle diplomacy generated positive vibes for the second US-DPRK talks.

The US began holding talks with the DPRK sometime ago for resuming the Six-Party Talks. That apart, Washington and Pyongyang agreed earlier this month to resume the search for the remains of US servicemen missing during the Korean War.

These are signs of improvement in US-DPRK ties, which had soured after the sinking of ROK corvette Cheonan and exchange of fire over Yeonpyeong Island. And hopefully, the US-DPRK talks will remove the obstacles for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks and help restore lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The basic purpose of the Six-Party Talks is to resolve the DPRK nuclear issue, the key to which is normalization of US-DPRK ties. Hence, the common goal of all the parties to the talks is to promote direct dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang to resolve the DPRK nuclear issue and restore enduring peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

As the host of the Six-Party Talks, China has mediated between the US and the DPRK to promote Washington-Pyongyang contacts and negotiations. But since the turn of the century, some Japanese and ROK media outlets have been saying that, by seeking direct contact with the US, the DPRK is trying to "free itself of China's influence" with a few even suggesting that Washington wants to offset "Beijing's influence" on Pyongyang by holding direct talks with the latter.

These opinions are baseless for three reasons. First, the DPRK is an independent state with full sovereignty and independent diplomacy, and its diplomatic policy is not dependent on any other country. Besides, China respects other countries' sovereignty, and has never sought to influence their foreign policy. Also, the world should realize that China-DPRK ties are different from US-ROK or US-Japan relations.

Second, after the US and the DPRK signed the "DPRK-US framework agreement" in Geneva in October 1994, China has helped the US and the DPRK contact each other under the framework of the Six-Party Talks or through "secret" channels. In fact, some of the US-DPRK talks were held because of China's mediation amid tense relations between the two countries.

For example, during the Six-Party Talks in 2004, China arranged an informal US-DPRK dialogue, known as Beijing tripartite talks, by creating a situation for an "accidental encounter" between the US and DPRK representatives in the corridor outside the conference hall or in the cafeteria.

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