Friday, December 15, 2006

Six Party Talking Again

Kim Jong-il will be sending his minions to Beijing for the resumption of the Six Party Talks on Monday. Vladimir Putin will also have a henchman present according to US diplomat Christopher Hill. “Ambassador Alekseyev is expected to be there. As many of you know, he's been ill in recent weeks but apparently he's made a full recovery”. A Russian diplomat with a mysterious illness and sudden recovery. How Cold War is that cover story?

As a non-government organization, the Council on Foreign Relations can be a little blunter than our official public servants.

Dim Hopes for Six-Party Progress: “The pretend objective, about nuclear weapons, may yield some pretend results,” but how the United States and China negotiate with each other will prove to be the most important aspect of the talks. China pressed North Korea to rejoin Six-Party Talks in late October. But China is likely to be satisfied with North Korea merely resuming a diplomatic process and is not expected to push for immediate results.

In fact China expert Adam Segal thinks the only reason North Korea is coming back to the negotiating table is because the US squeezed them where it really hurts. The Macau bank where North Korean accounts remain frozen seems to gotten beloved leaders attention.

Expectations for North Korea Talks ‘Extremely Low’: I think a successful meeting will be an agreement to have more meetings. At this point there has been some discussion about the possible makings of compromises at the margin over, for example, this issue of the Banco Delta Asia in Macao [a bank sanctioned for allegedly laundering counterfeit American currency produced by North Korea]. It seems as if [Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R.] Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator, has sent some signals that the North Koreans would be willing to work with [the] Treasury [department] to try and disentangle some of the North Korea’s legal business operations from its illegal ones.

The money motive also appears in comments from Secretary Hill when North Korea offers to come back and again attend the regional diplomacy game.

Christopher Hill: I didn’t ask them why they came back today, but they did not make resolution of the financial measures a condition. What they wanted us to be prepared to discuss, [was] to address the financial measures in the six-party process. And we’re prepared to do that.

After looting his country to build a military without an economic substructure, even Kim Jong-il probably understands that millions of unpaid people with guns is not a good option. Still, getting the dictator to acknowledge, even privately, that his house of cards is built on counterfeit money is going to be hard. Of course, buying rocket fuel without cash or credit is also a difficult trick to master.