KUALA LUMPUR: China and the Republic of Korea
(ROK) agreed yesterday to seek dialogue with Pyongyang at a regional security
conference in Malaysia to discuss the country's missile and nuclear programmes.
The agreement at a meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and
his ROK counterpart, Ban Ki-moon, came amid Pyongyang's silence about returning
to the stalled Six-Party Talks, aimed at resolving the security standoff on the
"We agreed that it's necessary for the participants of the Six-Party Talks to
meet in a six-way or other formats on the sidelines of the security conference,"
Ban told reporters after one-on-one talks with Li.
The conference, set for today and tomorrow, brings together the foreign
ministers of 25 countries and the European Union, including all six countries
involved in the nuclear talks - China, Japan, the ROK, Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (DPRK), Russia and the United States.
The meeting, called the ASEAN Regional Forum, marks the first time that the
six countries have gathered since the DPRK test-fired seven missiles on July 5.
It was hoped the six nations could meet on the sidelines of the forum to revive
their negotiating process.
But hopes of such a meeting have faded as Pyongyang refuses to join a
Pyongyang "is now at a crossroads," ROK top nuclear negotiator Chun Yung-woo
said after a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Vice-Foreign Minister Wu
"What kind of attitude DPRK is taking at the regional forum is very important
to the DPRK's future," he said.
Pyongyang has boycotted the talks since November in protest of a US crackdown
on its alleged financial wrongdoing. Pyongyang demands the US lift financial
restrictions against it.
The DPRK's missile tests earlier this month prompted fresh calls to resume
the Six-Party Talks in hopes of persuading it to disarm in exchange for economic
aid and security assurances.
The DPRK delegation, led by Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun, is scheduled to
arrive in Kuala Lumpur today.