S Korea’s Lee says talks an­swer to nu­clear cri­sis

The Pak Banker - - 6i Nternational -

SEOUL: South Korea's pres­i­dent has urged ne­go­ti­a­tions to tackle the penin­sula's nu­clear cri­sis but an­a­lysts say chances of in­ter­na­tional talks are slim be­cause of deep di­vi­sions and a lack of pres­sure on the em­bold­ened North.

Lee Myung-bak, who has vowed a tough stance against any fur­ther at­tack by the North, also called on Wed­nes­day for fresh di­a­logue be­tween the ri­val Koreas, say­ing a hard­line mil­i­tary pol­icy alone by the South would not ease ten­sion.

Six-party talks aimed at dis­man­tling North Korea's nu­clear work, which the North walked out of two years ago, were the only fo­rum to end the pro­gramme in re­turn for aid and diplo­matic recog­ni­tion, Lee said at a For­eign Min­istry pol­icy brief­ing.

"I think re­moval of the North Korea nu­clear pro­grammes should be achieved through six-party talks next year," he said.

But an­a­lysts say they doubt that can be done, given that the North has no rea­son to make big con­ces­sions.

There may be meet­ings be­tween coun­tries in­volved in the six-way talks, but for North Korea "de­nu­cle­ariza­tion"-the orig­i­nal pur­pose of talks in­volv­ing the two Koreas, China, the United States, Rus­sia and Ja­pan-is out of the ques­tion, they say.

"There could be some sort of al­ter­na­tive process in 2011 but it is hard to say. There is a lot of pes­simism about North Korea right now," said Scott Sny­der, an ex­pert on U.SKorea re­la­tions at the Asia Foun­da­tion.

A meet­ing be­tween North and South Korea, backed by the United States, could be an op­tion to kick off a diplo­matic process al­though chances of suc­cess were low, he said.

Like the United States, South Korea has sig­naled that it is loath to restart the di­plo- matic process un­less its reclu­sive neigh­bor shows steps to­ward dis­man­tling its nu­clear pro­gramme.

The United States will not be keen for in­volve­ment in talks aimed at send­ing in nu­clear in­spec­tors as it wants the re­moval, not the mon­i­tor­ing, of North Korea's atomic work.

It also wants China, the North's main ally and eco­nomic backer, to do more to rein in Py­ongyang, but China has called for a restart of the six­party talks with­out pre­con­di­tions.

Ura­nium en­rich­ment work re­vealed last month could give North Korea, which con­ducted nu­clear tests in 2006 and 2009, a sec­ond route to an atomic bomb, in ad­di­tion to its plu­to­nium pro­gramme.

Washington is ex­pected to voice such con­cerns when Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao vis­its the United States on Jan­uary 19. -Ap

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwaiti Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Nasser al-Mo­hammed al-Sabah (C) and Kuwaiti Com­merce and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Ah­mad al-Haroun dur­ing a par­lia­ment ses­sion at the Kuwait's Na­tional Assem­bly. -Ap

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