Three questions need to be re-identified in six-party talks

With the joint efforts by the concerned parties the six-party talks, which have been on hold for more than a year, are expected to resume. Under the careful arrangement by the Chinese side, representatives of the DPRK and the US declared on July 9 after contact in Beijing that the fourth round six-party talks would resume in the week of July 25.

On July 12 Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan paid a visit to the DPRK as the special representative of President Hu Jintao, during which DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Il had in-depth talks with him. On July 14 representatives of the US, Japan and the ROK gathered in Soul to coordinate stances. The concerned parties are preparing for the holding of the new round six-party talks.

Since the DPRK announced in February its possession of nuclear weapons and indefinite suspension of the six-party talks which are aimed at peaceful solution of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, the issue has caught even more attention in the world.

Although the US side said it has not set deadline for the DPRK to return to the six-party talks, US senior officials such as Condoleezza Rice have said on several occasions that the US has reached the limit of its patience and is considering other options. Other alternative solutions the US has for handling the increasingly severe Korean nuclear issue are all very harsh.

In concert with this, the US is seen silently making military deployment, including deploying 15 F117 Stealth Bombers in the ROK and beginning to conduct trainings to familiarize with the topography of the Korean Peninsula. All the signs indicate that once the six-party talks collapse the US would submit the issue to the United Nations and then adopt harsher measures against the DPRK.

Judging by these this round of six-party talks cannot afford to fail. Fortunately, the six parties have reached two crucial consensuses, namely, that all sides agree the Korean Peninsula should remain nuclear free, and that all sides expressed hope for progress in the new round of six-party talks. These have laid down foundation for the successful holding of the fourth round talks.

However, since the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue involves core interests of various sides and is very complicated, at least three questions must be re-identified before achievements are possible.

The first is - the aim and topics of the six-party talks. Documents of the first three rounds claim that the aim of the talks is to seek peaceful solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue. After announcing the possession of nuclear weapons the DPRK proposed that the six-party talks change to nuclear disarmament negotiation. On this the various sides could not reach consensus. Not only the topics could not be decided but also there were different opinions regarding the title of the six-party talks.

The second is that although all support the "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" it is still undecided whether this should be the long-term goal or a practical task. If the former, it might be suggested to discuss more "urgent" and "concrete" topics. If the latter, it is possible to discuss directly the question of "freezing or dismantlement for compensation"

The third is that if the above questions are solved it is necessary to make clear the basis on which to discuss "dismantlement for compensation". The DPRK has already announced that it is a nuclear state and other countries have not recognized that, which may give rise to different understandings of the meaning of "nuclear dismantlement".

The six-party talks are a precious opportunity for each side. The existence of different opinions among the various sides is quite normal. It is hoped that the concerned parties make the peace and stability of East Asia their priority and make decisions in the spirit of being responsible to history so that the talks be successful and multi-win result be achieved.

This is an article carried on the first page of People's Daily Overseas Edition on July 16 and translated by People's Daily Online

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