With North Korea appearing ready for unconditional nuclear talks and without any preconditions, the talks include the countries of North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia, and the United States. The purpose of the six-party talks is to “put a lid on the nuclear weapons program.” (Russia Today
The official announcement was made last Wednesday when President Dmitry Medvedev met the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, in Eastern Russia---at a military base in the Republic of Buryatia.
“Russia has consistently advocated a peaceful, political and diplomatic solution to this problem, for the restoration of dialogue and cooperation between North and South Korea,” the Kremlin said in a statement in the NY Times.
In Russia Today
, Russian officials who prepared the meeting between the two men said that the two leaders had also discussed North Korea’s $11 billion debt to Russia. Additionally, a gas pipeline between Russia and South Korea will be going through North Korea---thought to provide trust between Seoul, South Korea, and Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.
The gas cooperation between Russia, the Republic of Korea and North Korea will have an ‘ad hoc commission to determine the parameters, with President Medvedev assigning Alexei Miller, the head of Gazprom, to deal with the project.
"As regards the gas cooperation, there are results. We have directed our ministries to set up an ad hoc commission to determine the specific parameters of bilateral cooperation on gas transit via North Korea and, therefore, to get the Republic of Korea join this project."
Part of the nuclear deals has always involved a promise of aid in return for the end of North Korea’s nuclear program, with the United States and South Korea always demanding that North Korea meet past unfulfilled nuclear commitments to prove its sincerity. In regard to today’s meetings, a cautious and skeptic manner heralded the announcement due to previous agreement and statement violations.
In September 2005, North Korea had agreed to abandon its nuclear programs, exchanging them for economic assistance and diplomatic incentives from other countries at the talk tables. However, the agreement collapsed when North Korea refused to reveal its nuclear activities and subject its nuclear facilities to outside inspections.
According to the NY Times, current talks between the American and North Korean officials appear to be slightly warmer. China is urging North Korea to improve its strained relationships with the United States and South Korea, amidst criticism that both countries were withholding aid or political reasons from North Korea. According to the United Nations humanitarian officials today, North Koreans and their children are fighting severe levels of malnutrition.
“Six million North Koreans urgently need food aid, but the outside world is not giving enough,” the official, Valerie Amos, said in a news conference after a fact-finding trip to North Korea last week. “We need to remember the most vulnerable people in North Korea are victims of a situation over which they have no control. They are suffering from no fault of their own.”
Nearly half of North Korean children were chronically malnourished and the situation has been “getting worse,” she said, with North Korea running a shortage of one million tons of food a year. Food aid was especially needed after summer flooding.