US and North Korea meet

Today's bilateral meeting between the US and North Korea was an unexpected move in anticipation of this week's six party talks in China. In an attempt to curb North Korea's nuclear weapons program, the US Envoy, Christopher Hill, met one on one with North Korea's deputy foreign minister, Kim Kye Gwan. Though North Korea has requested bilateral contact in the past, today's meeting is the first public move away from US commitment to the six party talk system.

The success of the six party talks is thought to be riding on this week's meetings. "If this fourth round doesn't achieve anything, it may be difficult to continue them, but it will also be difficult to find a replacement to solve the crisis," said Jin Canrong, an international relations expert at the People's University in Beijing (NY Times).

The question to be pondered is whether North Korea is at all interested in cooperating with the US, China, SouthKorea, Japan, and Russia or are they simply stalling while they pusure their own nuclear policy? Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has promised again and again that the US is not interestedin in regime change in North Korea, and the US is committed to donating 50,000 tons of food aid to the communist dicatatorship. South Korea has offered to provide 2000 megawatts of power to its northern neighbor, if Kim Jong Il will renounce nuclear weapons. Is this enough?

Only time will tell, but the world cannot take North Korea at its word, as it proved in secretly developing their present nuclear stockpile while under the Clinton administration's trusting negotiations.