By Park Si-soo
China and North Korea are in secret talks about the isolated country's nuclear program, according to reports.
American broadcaster NBC on Thursday quoted a U.S. government source as saying that China sent its "top nuclear negotiators" to the North to "communicate the gravity of the situation to the North."
Taiwan's official Central News Agency on Sunday quoted Hong Kong military analyst Liang Guoliang as saying China is trying to resolve the North Korean nuclear impasse through diplomatic channels with the North.
The report said that Pyongyang is demanding China ensure the North's security and economic gain and give a period of three years to abandon nuclear weapons. However, Beijing is reportedly asking the North to dismantle nuclear weapons within three months and to accept the offer within two to three weeks.
Hong Kong-based military commentator Liang Guoliang said that the report is highly likely to be true. He reportedly said there is about a "50 percent chance" that China and North Korea will reach an agreement during their talks, adding if Pyongyang rejects China's offer, Beijing will likely give up diplomatic breakthrough.
Another secret talks between US and the North?
A senior South Korean journalist claims secret talks had begun between the U.S. and North Korea in New York to end the crisis.
The North's recent revival of a parliamentary foreign affairs commission was a "prelude" to the alleged bilateral dialogue, said Korea Economic editorial writer Jeong Kyu-jae.
He quoted unidentified sources as saying the U.S. will demand that North Korea permanently abandon, not freeze, its nuclear program.
The favors Washington is claimed to have offered in return for the North's permanent abandonment of its nuclear program include establishing a formal diplomatic relationship between Washington and Pyongyang and stationing an infantry outside Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, to protect the Kim Jong-un regime. Plus, the U.S. Navy would support the mission at North Korea's military port in Wonsan, according to the journalist.
"If the dialogue turns out to be productive, U.S. President Donald Trump might send his special envoy to the North in a clandestine manner in late April or early May," he said. "This is a scenario that will play out only when things unfold smoothly. If the talks are unsuccessful, the U.S. might consider a military strike as the next option."