Park Geun-hye calls for five-way talks to disarm North Korea

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President Park Geun-hye on Friday called for a separate meeting of five members of the six-party talks to step up pressure on North Korea, expressing skepticism for the first time over the efficacy of the decade-old negotiations.

During an annual New Year policy briefing, she prodded her top foreign, defense and unification aides to come up with ways to increase the “effectiveness” of Seoul’s approach, saying the nuclear issue should be first and foremost tackled as the center of North Korea policy.

“It should not be an easy problem given the participation of other countries, but we should look for various and creative steps, such as trying a five-way gathering excluding North Korea,” Park said.

“The six-party talks were once useful as a tool to resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue. But as the situation continues where the meeting itself cannot take place or, even if it does, it would not contribute to the denuclearization of North Korea, there will inevitably be a debate about its effectiveness.”

President Park Geun-hye talks during a policy briefing at Cheong Wa Dae on Friday. (Yonhap)

The six-way gathering has been dormant since late 2008, as Seoul and Washington urge Pyongyang’s sincerity and gestures to ensure progress on its disarmament as precursory steps, whereas Beijing and Russia called for a swift, unconditional restart of dialogue. The North, for its part, has been demanding acknowledgement as a nuclear weapons state and arms reduction talks, which have been flatly dismissed by the U.S.

South Korea has since late 2014 pushed for what it calls the “Korean formula” to restart denuclearization dialogue with the North or among the other five parties.

The content and method of the “Korean formula” has remained largely undisclosed, and it has so far failed to bring about any multiparty meeting. The U.S. has deemed the proposal as unfeasible, dismissing it at an early phase, according to Seoul diplomats with the close knowledge of the process.

During the meeting, Park also stressed the significance of China’s role in altering Pyongyang’s course, given Beijing’s veto power in the U.N. Security Council, chairmanship of the six-party forum and formidable clout over its intractable neighbor.

“What’s crucial after all is to create the situation under which North Korea has no option but to change itself, in which China’s cooperation is vital,” she said.

“China has so far displayed many times its strong resolve to never accept the existence of nuclear weapons on the peninsula. Now I hope it will take effective steps so that North Korea will realize its nuclear program will be of no use and come out to the international community alongside Iran.”

By Shin Hyon-hee(heeshin@heraldcorp.com)

Source : The Korea Herald

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