China is lobbying neighbors to sign up to a road map for renewed nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong-il is visiting China amid conciliatory words and threats of atomic “holy war.”
The details of Beijing’s plan for restarting stalled six-party nuclear talks came from a South Korean diplomatic source, who spoke yesterday after discussion in Seoul with Wu Dawei (武大偉), China’s top envoy in the talks.
However, the source, as well as a Japanese official speaking in Beijing, stressed that big obstacles remained in the way of new talks, even if Kim’s trip to China yields another vow of North Korea’s willingness to sit down and discuss a dormant deal to scrap its nuclear weapons in return for aid.
“We don’t want to restart six-party talks for the sake of talks,” the South Korean diplomatic source said. “North Korea should change its attitude and show seriousness in denuclearizing.”
China’s regional lobbying, and courting of Kim, highlight the pressures that North Korea has brought to bear on northeast Asia, home to the world’s second and third-biggest economies and a big US military presence.
Kim, 68, and his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, are in China to visit the school of Kim senior’s father and founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung, a source with knowledge of the secretive trip said.
“Trust me, it’s 100 percent both are here,” the source said, declining to give details when asked.
There had been no conclusive sightings in China of Kim, but motorcades of black cars and extensive security in the northeast Chinese city of Changchun indicated he may be there, after entering China on Thursday.
The two neighbors do not disclose much information about Kim’s travels and only do so after he has left for home.
On Friday, a North Korean diplomat brandished the possibility of nuclear war with South Korea and the US.
“If Washington and Seoul try to create conflict on the Korean peninsula, we respond with a holy war on the basis of our nuclear deterrent forces,” North Korea’s ambassador to Cuba, Kwon Sung-chol, said in Havana, according to a report by China’s Xinhua news agency.
Wu proposed a three-stage process to restart the multilateral talks aimed at coaxing Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for aid and other assurances, the South Korean diplomatic source said.
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