En­voy in DPRK to seek re­lease of US cit­i­zen

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton ZHANG YUNBI in Bei­jing

A flurry of diplo­matic ef­forts be­tween China, the United States and the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea have raised hopes for the re­lease of US cit­i­zen Ken­neth Bae and the re­sump­tion of stalled Six-Party Talks.

The US State Depart­ment an­nounced on Tues­day that Robert King, spe­cial en­voy for DPRK hu­man rights is­sues, will travel to Py­ongyang on Fri­day at the in­vi­ta­tion of the govern­ment of the DPRK, on a hu­man­i­tar­ian mis­sion to se­cure Bae’s re­lease.

Bae was ar­rested in the DPRK in Novem­ber 2012 and sen­tenced in April to 15 years of hard la­bor for hos­tile acts against the coun­try.

“King will re­quest the DPRK par­don Mr Bae and grant him spe­cial amnesty on hu­man­i­tar­ian grounds, so that he can be re­united with his fam­ily and seek med­i­cal treat­ment,” the state­ment said.

King’s trip will not be di­rectly con­nected to the nu­clear is­sue, Seoul- based Yon­hap News Agency quoted an un­named of­fi­cial of the Repub­lic of Korea Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade as say­ing on Wed­nes­day.

But the “pos­si­bil­ity can­not be ruled out” that the US spe­cial en­voy will serve as a messenger, bring­ing in­for­ma­tion from the DPRK to the White House re­gard­ing the sit­u­a­tion on the penin­sula, said Huang Youfu, a pro­fes­sor of Korean stud­ies at Minzu Univer­sity of China in Bei­jing.

“We can­not ex­pect too much from his role as a messenger,” Huang said.

While King trav­els to the DPRK, Danny Rus­sel, US as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for East Asian and Pa­cific Af­fairs, will visit Bei­jing, Seoul and Tokyo next week to dis­cuss bi­lat­eral and re­gional is­sues, in­clud­ing the lat­est sit­u­a­tion on the Korean Penin­sula, Yon­hap said.

It will be Rus­sel’s first visit to North­east Asia since he was of­fi­cially ap­pointed early this month. Pre­vi­ously, Rus­sel served on the White House National Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

Of­fi­cials from the US, the ROK and Ja­pan have in­sisted that Py­ongyang show more sin­cer­ity by first re­nounc­ing its nu­clear pro­gram be­fore they con­sider restart­ing talks.

Scott Sny­der, a se­nior fel­low for penin­su­lar stud­ies and di­rec­tor of the Pro­gram on US- Korea Pol­icy at the US Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions, be­lieves Wash­ing­ton is still wait­ing for Py­ongyang to take the nec­es­sary steps to cre­ate con­di­tions for re­sum­ing the Six-Party Talks.

“I do not know if Rus­sel’s trip will re­sult in the DPRK tak­ing th­ese steps,” he said.

Ten­sions on the penin­sula flared fol­low­ing the DPRK’s nu­clear test in Fe­bru­ary — its third.

On Mon­day, Wu Dawei, China’s spe­cial en­voy for Korean Penin­sula af­fairs, ar­rived in Py­ongyang with hopes of restart­ing the SixParty Talks and fur­ther im­prov­ing the sit­u­a­tion on the penin­sula.

Wu was in­vited by the DPRK’s top nu­clear ne­go­tia­tor, Kim Kye-gwan, who vis­ited Bei­jing in June.

Huang, the Chi­nese pro­fes­sor, said the fre­quency of diplo­matic in­ter­ac­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions among rel­e­vant par­ties to the talks of late re­sulted from the eas­ing of ten­sions on the penin­sula.

“It is im­pos­si­ble to re­al­ize such fre­quent in­ter­ac­tions when ten­sion is run­ning high. With enough up­dates of in­for­ma­tion, they are ad­just­ing their poli­cies for greater progress on denu­cle­ariz­ing the penin­sula,” Huang said.

The pro­fes­sor said the talks are still the best op­tion for achiev­ing a peace­ful penin­sula, and Bei­jing is striv­ing hard to re­sume them.

The talks, be­gun in 2003 in re­sponse to the DPRK’s withdrawal from the Nu­clear Non- Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty, in­volve the DPRK, the ROK, China, the US, Ja­pan and Rus­sia. They have been stalled since 2008.

Ten­sions have eased in the past three months. Seoul and Py­ongyang agreed this month to re­open their jointly run Kaesong in­dus­trial zone in the DPRK bor­der city. Con­tact the writ­ers at chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com and zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily. com.cn

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.