Posted : 2016-01-24 16:10
Updated : 2016-01-24 18:43

China, Russia oppose five-way talks

By Rachel Lee

President Park
President Park Geun-hye's proposal on Friday to hold a five-nation meeting aimed at resolving Pyongyang's nuclear program has received conflicting responses from the United States and China.

The proposed discussions would be an exclusion of North Korea from the long-stalled six-party talks involving the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, China and the United States. These talks have been suspended since late 2008.

The U.S. has expressed its support for five-way talks.

"The United States supports President Park's call for a five-party meeting. We believe coordination with the other parties would be a useful step in our ongoing efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula through credible and authentic negotiations," a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Seoul said in a statement Sunday.

China, however, has shown opposition to Park's suggestion, sticking to resuming the six-party talks with North Korea.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Friday that all parties should "restart the six-party talks at an early date, in order to move forward the goal of denuclearization and ensure long-term stability and development of the peninsula."

China and Russia have objected to the idea of the five-nation dialogue, which has been proposed consistently since the North's second nuclear test was conducted in 2009, because it could be "provocative" to Pyongyang.

Political commentators are skeptical of the two countries' participation in the suggested talks, and are casting doubts over the effectiveness of Park's proposal.

Cheong Seong-chang, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, said Park's suggestion is the "same old way of approaching the nuclear issue" that was also pushed by former President Lee Myung-bak and his administration, which ended in failure.

"President Park says that cooperation from China is vital to resolving the North's nuclear program, but she still made such a proposal that draws unwelcome attention from China and Russia. It is widening the differences in views with these members," Cheong said.

Kim Dong-yeop, a research professor at the Kyungnam University Institute for Far Eastern Studies, also expects the two nations to exclude themselves from the meeting.

"China will never join a dialogue without North Korea," Kim said. "China plays an important role in discussing the North's nuclear program, but it is impossible for them to just give up on the North for strategic reasons."

The professor said that Russia may also stay out of the discussion.

The president's remarks came after the North showed no sign of abandoning its nuclear program, having conducted four nuclear tests including a recently claimed hydrogen bomb test on Jan. 6.

"The proposal does not indicate that the six-party talks should be replaced with the five-nation meeting excluding North Korea," said a spokesperson for Cheong Wa Dae. "Our key message is that we need proper sanctions to resolve the North's nuclear program."

A Cheong Wa Dae official said the president will "keep on stressing the importance of China's cooperation to prevent the North's fifth, sixth nuclear tests."

The nuclear issue is expected to be a key topic during U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's planned visit to Beijing Wednesday. The State Department said in a release Friday that the visit will be made for "meetings with senior leaders of the Chinese government to discuss a range of global, regional, and bilateral issues, including North Korea."

The six-party talks have been stalled because the North insists that it should join the talks with the status of a nuclear power, calling for unconditional dialogue, while the South and the U.S. have urged the North to show its commitment to the abandonment of its nuclear program before such talks can resume.

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