06/21/2004, 00.00
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Third round of "six-way" talks about to start

by Pino Cazzaniga, PIME
The fourth anniversary of the inter-Korean summit was celebrated in Seoul: "The beginnings of an era of reconciliation".

Seoul (AsiaNews) - From June 23 to 26, Beijing will host the third round of "six-way" talks aimed at finding solutions for the Korean peninsula's nuclear problem.  In making the announcement, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry added: "China hopes that the parties involved with reach a consensus based on the progess made so far".The talks will centre around the dismantling of North Korean nuclear installations, which the United States is demanding.  Other parties involved in the talks, besides the main opponents, are South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States.  China, which has been sponsoring the talks, is carrying out mediation.  The concern in the international community is that this latest round, like the previous ones, will lead to little.

Yet, celebrations held last June 15th in South Korea for the fourth anniversary of the North/South Korean summit have substantiated Chinese hopes.  The main commemorative event was a international forum in Seoul jointly organized by the Yonsei University (South Korea) and the National Institute for National Unification of Pyongyang (North Korea).  The meeting was inspired by former Korean president Kim Dae-Jung, architect of détente and collaboration with the North.The government of the North sent a qualified delegation to the forum, which was preceded by a private meeting to which South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun invited Kim Dae-jung and the head of the North Korean delegation, Ri Jong-hyo.  The latter extended the personal greetings of the Northern leader to Roh, saying that, "We have made much progress in the past 4 years".

In his commemorative address, Roh said that South Korea determined to assist its sister nation if the nuclear crisis is resolved.  "Roh's proposal is global and specific," a presidential spokesman said, "Global in that it foresees cooperation toward the economic development of North Korea in all industrial sectors; specific in that it foresees gradual economic exchanges in the process for resolving the nuclear problem".

In the dispute over denuclearization, Seoul's approach differs from Washington's.  George W. Bush wants the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of all nuclear installations in the North.  Economic help would follow.  Roh, instead, is keeping to the principle of gradualness: gradual aid against gradual concessions.  International opinion is tending toward the concept of gradualness.Analysts are judging positively the inter-Korean summit of June 15, 2000.  Professor Go Yu-hwan wrote, "We can be sure in saying that the formal meeting between the heads of state of the two Koreas, which ended an era of discord and conflict and opened one of reconciliation and cooperation, was a positive and dramatic turning point in the history of reciprocal relations.

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