11/02/2006, 00.00
north korea – south korea

Pyongyang to resume talks but on its own terms

In exchange for resuming talks, Kim Jong-il's Stalinist regime expects US sanctions to be lifted and humanitarian aid to start flowing again. International community stresses that is not likely.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – North Korea confirmed yesterday that it would return to six-party nuclear talks, but added that Pyongyang expects the United States to lift its economic sanctions and South Korea to resume sending humanitarian aid.

According to various international analysts, the statement by North Korea's foreign ministry confirms that the "real motive" behind its provocative October 9 nuclear test was a desire to get more South Korean aid and settle the crisis generated by its alleged counterfeiting of US currency, a practice Washington had condemned.

The first reactions to the statement have been unanimous. For South Korea, the sanctions cannot be lifted, whilst Japan said it would not end its sanctions against North Korea until Pyongyang had scrapped its nuclear programme. For his part, Christopher Hill, US negotiator at the nuclear talks, said any talks will be only about nuclear disarmament.

But the main reason behind North Korea's decision to return to disarmament talks was its  desire to patch up its relationship with its main sponsor, mainland China, which had lost face as a result of the nuclear test and was willing to make things difficult for Pyongyang.

The breakthrough came when China sent a high profile delegation to North Korea led by state council member Tang Jiaxuan, who delivered a personal message from Chinese President Hu Jintao to 'dear leader' Kim Jong-il.

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