How proposed bilateral talks between the DPRK and the US could undermine the Six-Party Talks is beyond me, at least as far as Seoul is concerned. ROK Vice Foreign Minister Park Kil-yon seems very intent on speaking for Washington.
A high-ranking South Korean official visiting the U.S. held a discussion with South Korean correspondents in Washington on Thursday evening. The official said the timing and form of the bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea have not yet been concretely decided, and that general expectations are too high. He suggested that progress towards the talks is slow.
The official also said that even if and when North Korea-U.S. talks begin, sanctions will not be immediately lifted as they have been in the past. His statement suggests the U.S. will continue to employ a "two track strategy" of simultaneous sanctions and dialogue. In addition, he said if bilateral talks are held, they must not turn into a forum for negotiations, relegating six-party talks to a mere venue for ratification.
Is this the South Korean version of the 'Party of No'? Have America's conservatives died and gone to Korea?
And, ROK President Lee Myung-bak is even more intent to hold on firmly to Washington's attentions.
Last June President Obama and I agreed to adopt a joint vision for the future of the alliance during our summit meeting in Washington, D.C. What we agreed by adopting this vision was that we will work towards making this alliance into something that will positively contribute to promoting peace and prosperity around the world.
We also agreed that this alliance will no longer just be about ensuring security, but much more. It will continue to carry out its purpose of securing peace, but at the same time it will be a comprehensive strategic alliance for the 21st century that encompasses economic, social, cultural, educational, scientific and technological cooperation.
The KORUS FTA will further consolidate the expansion and cooperation between the U.S. with a region that is dynamic and vigorous like the Northeast Asian region. The KORUS FTA will elevate the Korea-U.S. alliance into one that goes beyond the military security alliance. It will become the catalyst in making this alliance into a comprehensive, strategic alliance that encompasses economic and social aspects as well.
Yeah, good luck with that FTA! Only three men could halt this marriage with unkind words - Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama - and sweet-nothings of their own.
Obama obviously feels some affinity with Hatoyama and the quiet revolution that the DPJ has achieved in Japan, given that it is no less a singular political achievement than Obama’s. In my view the ‘yes we can’ mentality really resonated with Japanese voters and spurred them into thinking that they could really achieve ‘regime change’.
Tobias Harris says: ‘the real story is not the distant dream of an East Asia integrated like the EU but the prospects for partnership between Hatoyama and the leaders of East Asia’s other middle powers, symbolized by the exchange between Hatoyama and Rudd.’
PM Hatoyama’s idea is that an Asia Pacific Community (akin to PM Rudd’s idea), which would involve the US, should only be pursued after the East Asia community (EAc) has been established. The DPJ’s plan to create an EAc has Japan-China relations as its core (as a kind of joint leadership of East Asia
bigemony?), so would include more than just socalled ‘middle powers’, but would not include the US. On these grounds, it seems that PM Hatoyama is prioritising East Asia, not the Asia-Pacific, as the centre of multilateralist diplomacy in the region.
It's Lee versus Hatoyama in the East Asian cage match of the post-Cold War! Strategic Alliance versus Middle-Power Gambit! Whom will President Obama take for is beloved?
And then, there's the receding pompadour of the dark knight waiting in Pyongyang. The DPRK has fitted its ruler with all the accoutrements of power and set its military-first policy into the substance of its constitution. How anyone could fear any dream, fantasy, or whim could survive these slashing scissors of grasping ambition, megalomania, and myopia is a twisted cynic. Or, a party out of touch with reality. I wouldn't put my money, though, where history never smiles kindly - on either end of the peninsula.
Cross-posted: Left Flank