The first meeting in three years of the foreign ministers of North Korea and South Korea was has been met with cautious optimism. The two sides agreed to renew stalled six-party talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
However, the US secretary of state said Washington will not back the negotiations unless North Korea first starts dismantling its atomic facilities.
Eric Sirotkin, cofounder of the National Campaign to End the Korean War, says there are several reasons the two countries have agreed to renew talks after a long period of stagnation.
“We are heading into new elections next year in South Korea, certainly that could be one of the reasons,” he stated. “South Koreans have taken a very hard line against the North, and currently the US as well. What we are seeing now for the first time is both South Korea and Washington beginning to move again back the to negotiating table. And we hope that is a good sign.”
According to Sirotkin, North Korea indicated many times it would give up its nuclear weapon capability for a peace treaty or formalization of relations with the US.
“That has always been on the table. It is a real opportunity, because more than 150 countries normalized relations with the North and we need formal channels to begin to deal with these things,” explained Sirotkin.
He also stated that the fact North Korea has been invited to Washington to discuss cooperation is a good sign.
“North Koreans have always wanted bilateral talks; it was the US that separated Korea more than 60 years ago,” concluded Sirotkin. “The US holds the key to peace in the region, and now it is time for Washington and North Korea to be dialoguing.”