Russia’s foreign minister said yesterday that meetings in Pyongyang with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il left him optimistic about ongoing nuclear talks (see GSN, July 2).
“At the meeting with Kim Jong Il, and at the meeting with North Korea’s foreign minister, there was a general consensus that the positive momentum on the third round of six-way talks in June allow us to count that, with proper preparation, quite concrete results will be achieved during the fourth round,” said Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who met with top officials in North and South Korea over the past three days (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo!News, July 5).
Lavrov added that a deal requiring dismantlement of Pyongyang’s nuclear programs would probably develop in stages, Interfax reported.
“The emergency awareness of the need to move forward in stages and (the idea) that the first stage must rely on the formula of a freeze in exchange for compensation have to be consolidated,” Lavrov said, according to the Associated Press (Mara Bellaby, Associated Press, July 6).
Meanwhile, Kim told a senior Chinese official that he hopes to visit South Korea “at an appropriate time,” a former South Korean presidential aide said Sunday, according to Yonhap.
Kim Han-jung, an aide to former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, said he heard about the North Korean leader’s intent to visit “from a Chinese official who Kim met in person when he visited China (in April),” the Associated Press reported (Associated Press/Yahoo!News, July 4).
Elsewhere, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Friday he hoped to normalize relations with North Korea within a year, AFP reported.
“It will be good if we can do so within a year. I believe the sooner the better,” Koizumi said.
Earlier in the week, Koizumi had said he hoped the normalization could come “within two years” (Agence France-Presse, July 2).