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Flexibility of US, DPRK rekindles hope for talks
Updated: 2005-05-13 23:57

The United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) recently showed flexibility on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, rekindling hope for restarting the stalled six-party talks, experts said here Friday.

Both the United States and the DPRK expressed willingness to have direct talks within the framework of six-party talks in recent days. "This positive signal indicates the possibility of resuming the six-party talks," said Piao Jianyi, a Chinese expert on Korean studies with the Institute of Asian-Pacific Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The US State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Monday that the United States is willing to have direct talks with DPRK only within the framework of the six-party talks. Casey made the remarks after the DPRK Foreign Ministry said Sunday that Pyongyang has no intention to hold bilateral talks with Washington separate from the framework of the six-party talks.

"Compared with previous tough attitudes, both sides have made certain concession," Piao said. "Considering from their fundamental interests, neither the United States nor the DPRK is willing to see deadlock on the nuclear issue, and both sides still want to use dialogue to solve the issue. That's one of the reasons why the United States and the DPRK would made such concession," Piao said.

"The flexibility shown by the United States and the DPRK is conducive for easing the current tension," said Li Jun, an expert on Korean studies with China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

The DPRK announced in February that it has made a nuclear weapon and that it is suspending its participation in the six- party talks on the nuclear issue for an "indefinite period," accusing the United States of seeking to topple its political system. The United States in April said it will take the nuclear issue to the United Nations, while the DPRK will regard sanctions as a declaration of war.

"Both sides have actually recognized the harmfulness for them if such a tension goes further, and still agree the importance of solving nuclear issue through six-party talks," Li said. " Therefore the United States and the DPRK would make certain concession to ease current tension."

The six-party talks, involving China, the DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan, have had three rounds in Beijing. The fourth round, originally scheduled for last September, was suspended mainly due to mistrust between the United States and the DPRK.

"All concerned parties never stopped their efforts for early resuming the six-party talks. The positive attitudes of the United States and the DPRK have also attributed to the active coordination of concerned parties," Li said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Tuesday that China will be "pleased" if the United States and DPRK have direct contact in any form. Spokesman Kong Quan said Thursday that China welcomes the "positive messages" sent by the United States and the DPRK over resuming the six-party talks, urging them to release more such messages to create a good atmosphere for the talks.

"China attaches great importance to these positive signs of the United States and the DPRK, with a purpose to seize this opportunity to create more conducive atmosphere to restart talks at an early date," Piao Jianyi said.

However, the DPRK announced Wednesday that it recently finished unloading 8,000 spent fuel rods from a five-megawatt pilot nuclear reactor. The DPRK maintains that it is taking necessary measures to bolster its nuclear arsenal for the defensive purpose of coping with the prevailing situation, with a main emphasis on developing the self-reliant nuclear power industry.

"Uncertainty still remains for whether the six-party talks will be restarted soon," said Qi Baoliang, a noted researcher on Korean studies with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is very complicated, and attitudes of concerned parties still need watching, Qi said. " There is a long way to go for finally resolving the nuclear issue in a proper way," he said.

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