SEOUL: South Korea’s press yesterday expressed scepticism over an apparent offer by North Korea that it was willing to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks.
North Korean special envoy Choe Ryong-Hae met Chinese President Xi Jinping and reportedly handed him a letter from leader Kim Jong-Un in a sign Pyongyang may be backing away from confrontation with the international community.
Choe said that North Korea was willing to take positive actions to solve problems through dialogue, China’s official Xinhua news agency said, after months of high tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.
Choe was quoted as saying that dialogue included the talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programme, chaired by China and also attended by South Korea, the United States, Russia and Japan.
“North Korea appears to be backing away from provocative acts and extending an olive branch,” South Korea’s largest circulation daily Chosun Ilbo said in an editorial.
“But we must not leap to a conclusion that North Korea is seriously minded to come to the dialogue table for denuclearisation. It is more interested in mollifying an angry China.
“North Korea has offered talks for talks’ sake and it has no intention to disarm. No matter what kind of dialogue may take place down the road, the North must not be allowed to play for time.”
There was no comment from the South Korean government but Yonhap news agency said officials were mostly sceptical.
“Who would believe what the North said now after it said so many times it will push through with a policy of promoting both nuclear buildup and economic development,” said one government official quoted by
The Joongang Ilbo also said it remained unclear whether North Korea would come back to the six-party dialogue but its latest gesture meant it has “not lost touch with reality to step back when necessary”.