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China Comes to the Table
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Well, this is a small step forward in dealing with North Korea.

U.S., Chinese and North Korean officials will meet in Beijing next week to try to resolve a six-month standoff over the communist North's suspected development of nuclear weapons, U.S. and South Korean officials said Wednesday.


After insisting on one-on-one talks with Washington for months, Pyongyang indicated Saturday it was willing to accept U.S. demands for multilateral discussions on the dispute.

Still, Russia, Japan, and South Korean are chickenshits for not backing the U.S. on talks with North Korea.

Think about each of the parties and why they would and wouldn't want multilateral discussions with North Korea.

North Korea wanted unilateral talks with the U.S. so that it could simply blame American duplicity and aggression for violating any new agreement (see the previous one from 1994).

Regional countries don't want to be at the table because they don't want to piss off North Korea, preferring to appease them (this is somewhat understandable, since they probably already have nukes). And they don't want to sign a piece of paper taking a tough line on North Korea. They don't want to have to back the U.S. position a couple of years down the road if and when North Korea reneges on any agreements.

And the U.S. wants multilateral talks for the very opposite reason. We want other countries behind us the next time North Korea lies and defies an treaty. If, for example, they agree to disarm in exchange for a non-aggression pact, with only the U.S. signature at the bottom, who the hell expects them to honor it? But, if Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan are all also signatories to such an agreement, North Korea might actually feel obligated to comply.

Basically, countries in the region don't want to commit to an agreement. They just want the U.S. to handle it by themselves. They've all been saying as much for the past six months. And as I've said, it's a chickenshit cop-out. And it's especially hypocritical to beg the U.S. to handle North Korea unilaterally while singing the praises of multilateralism and international diplomacy.

At least China has shown a glimmer of hope in the process. But it's not exactly a united front. I have to admit not feeling a great deal of optimism for the talks, and I think any country in the region who refuses to show up at the table should be ashamed of themselves.

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