25 August 2005

China and the Sept. 2 Re-Start

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei said Aug. 25 that Beijing and Tokyo are discussing a Sept. 2 restart to the six-party nuclear talks. This would put the start date at the very end of the planned restart week, suggesting that negotiations backstage continue in earnest and more time is needed by one or more participant. The outstanding issue remains the civilian nuclear program – or at least the wording – and Washington and Seoul appear close to a compromise after Ban’s recent visit. Pyongyang has hinted at a potential delay after Washington and Seoul held the annual Ulci Focus Lens, so Beijing’s delay may be related. Moscow’s position remains unclear, but given the hints at energy cooperation and Moscow’s role in the degradation of the final days of the last round of talks, whatever time they restart, Moscow obviously wants a role steering the process. One side note is that Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to meet with U.S. president George W. Bush at the Whitehouse Sept. 7, so maybe Beijing wants to try to tie some victory at the six-party talks to the Hu-Bush visit to take the credit for the success.

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