Paving the way for the upcoming new round of six-party talks, a special representative of the Chinese president concluded his two-day visit to the DPRK and came back to Beijing Thursday afternoon.
Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan is the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) at the eve of every new round of six-party talks.
After a thirteen-month deadlock, the DPRK last Saturday declared it would come back to the negotiation table in two weeks. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice started her five-nation Asian tour in preparation for the new round.
All above urgent arrangements are sending a message to the world: all parties are placing more hope than ever before on the new round, and are preparing for it as carefully as possible.
The recent remarks by the DPRK and the U.S. demonstrate their determination to make progress in the upcoming new round of talks. DPRK leader Kim Jong-Il told Tang that he hopes the new round can be held as scheduled and achieve results. The US side also said the new round is "only the first step", and the key point is to "make progress".
The other parties have also made contributions to the new round. Chinese President Hu Jintao, in a meeting with Rice, said China hopes the good momentum of accumulating common ground will be strengthened. The republic of Korea believes there will be a more flexible and substantial discussion, and that it will raise important proposals during the new round.
The fourth round of six-party talks, which was originally scheduled to be held last September, has been postponed because of the mistrust between the U.S. and the DPRK, as well as the US general election. Since then, the peaceful dialogues on the Korean nuclear issue have seen twists and turns.
The new Bush administration this year called the DPRK a "tyranny outpost", and in return, the DPRK declared it already has self-defensive nuclear weapons.
Jin Linbo, a scholar at China's Institute of International Studies, said that the international situation improved the chances for resuming talks. The complicated Iraqi situation and political upheaval in Iran have convinced all six parties to achieve security through peaceful talks.
Under these circumstances, both the DPRK and the U.S. have shown positive signals to each other. The U.S. has recognized the DPRK as a sovereign state, and has claimed it does not intend to invade it, and the two sides have agreed to have bilateral contact within the six-party framework.
"Resuming the six-party talks is in conformity with the international situation and the countries' own interests," said Jin.
The nuclear issue in the Korean peninsula started in 1990s. China advocated to set up six-party talks mechanism, trying to peacefully solve the Korean nuclear issue.
From 2003 to 2004, China, the DPRK, the U.S., the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan held three rounds of six-party talks in Beijing. From the first round, which enabled the DPRK and U.S. to sit together, to the third round, in which a detailed proposal was put forward, every step forward was arduous.
Experts are skeptical that the new round will make a breakthrough. Shi Yinhong, professor with China's People's University, said the U.S. is giving a last chance to the DPRK. Another expert, Zhang Liangui, said the new round of talks can not afford failure. Shen Jiru, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the compromise is temporary as mistrust still exists between the U.S. and the DPRK.
Whatever result the new round can achieve, it will not be easy to maintain peaceful dialogue in dealing with such a sensitive and complicated international issue. The common ground between the DPRK and the U.S. has increased only gradually.
Patience and flexibility will continue to be key in the new round for the settlement of the Korean nuclear issue.