Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hill Fails to Sell Five-Party Talks to China


They don't call him Kim Jong-Hill for nothing.

For United States Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, diplomacy appears to be an end, not a means. The chief advocate of appeasing North Korea--dubbed Kim Jong-Hill by Bush administration hawks--told reporters on Friday that the US was considering holding five-party talks about North Korea's nuclear program--without North Korea. Said Hill: "We just don't want a situation where we don't meet at all because one party doesn't want to meet."

Not a bad thought, perhaps, provided the purpose of the meeting is to plan the destruction of the North Korean regime. But Hill had something else in mind--the illusion of progress, with Chinese participation.

Beijing had other ideas. Less than a day after Hill's silly remarks, China signaled its reluctance to go along with talking about its Stalinist vassal for the sake of talking. Japanese media reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told a senior Japanese diplomat in Beijing that China would not meet without North Korea.

Hill desperately wanted to meet in Malaysia. Top diplomats of the six nations involved in talks over Pyongyang's weapons programs--the two Koreas, China, Japan, the US and Russia--will be in Kuala Lumpur for annual talks on defense and security in Asia.

The six-party talks stalled last November after North Korea objected to US financial sanctions imposed on the regime of Dear Leader Kim Jong-il for allegedly counterfeiting US currency, money laundering, and drug trafficking.

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on July 15 for a resolution demanding North Korea halt its ballistic missile program and requiring nations to prevent Pyongyang from acquiring advanced weapons. But China used the threat of a veto to remove critically important (Chapter 7) language that would have authorized use of force against North Korea; so the final version, though praised by Hill and other diplomats, is essentially a triumph of symbolism over substance.

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