6-Way Talks to Lead Security Regime

By Yoon Won-sup

Staff Reporter, The Korea Times

 

The top Russian envoy in Seoul expects the new round of six-party talks, which will open today in Beijing to resolve North Koreas nuclear problems, will bring more good results following the previous negotiations last month given the current situation.

``We think the prospects (of the six-party talks) are good, Russian Ambassador to Seoul Gleb Ivashentsov said in an interview with The Korea Times on Tuesday. ``But we should not be overly optimistic because it is a very long case.

The 62-year-old career diplomat said that the upcoming talks will focus on ways to implement the two basic agreements, signed on Sept. 19, 2006 and Feb. 13, 2007 where Pyongyang will receive aid in return for abandoning its nuclear weapons programs.

According to Ivashentsov, concrete ways of the implementation will be further discussed in the talks with a positive atmosphere.

However, the ambassador noted that it will basically take quite a long time for the Korean Peninsula to become totally denuclearized.

``You cannot settle it (North Korean issue) within weeks but even the longest way should start with a first step, he said. ``So the first step is being done.

The ambassador stressed that the first step will ultimately bear fruit, by taking as an example the first nuclear test-ban treaty, the Partial Test Ban Treaty signed by the United States, the former Soviet Union and the United Kingdom in 1963.

``I was a student at that time. No one thought that it was possible, he said. ``What is also important for developing security on the Korean Peninsula is to promote confidence-building measures.

He said that his country has succeeded with the United States in working out confidence-building measures, which he thinks are also relevant for North East Asia.

Ivashentsov considered that the six-party talks will eventually lead to a nuclear non-proliferation regime or security system in North East Asia.

``One of the tasks of the six-party talks is to work out a security system for North East Asia, which will guarantee the security of North Korea, South Korea, Japan and China, whoever is involved in this situation, he added. ``So it is kind of litmus test for the international community.

The talks will also contribute to strengthening of the non-proliferation regime in general, he said.

Asked about how Moscow will provide energy aid to Pyongyang as promised in the talks, the ambassador said that Russias energy provision will not be limited to heavy fuel oil as the news media reported. The aids can be coals, gas or electricity, he added.

``But concrete forms of our participation in this aid are to be settled within the working group on energy supply, which is headed by a South Korean representative, he said.

Meanwhile, he said that Moscow will have a bilateral meeting with Pyongyang on March 23 to discuss writing off $8-billion in debts owed by North Korea.

However, he declined to elaborate on how the debts will be written off. But he said several options, which were used in other Soviet-era nations, such as payment with property, mines or factories.

``In certain cases, we prefer to use debts for further promotion of economic cooperation like we had very big debts in India, which have been repaid over 10 years _ and part of the debt is to be invested in joint ventures in India, he said.

He believed that a settlement of the writing-off issue will help Russias cooperation with both Koreas in different joint projects such as the linking of the Trans Siberian Railway to the Korean Peninsula.

Ivashentsov said the railway connection will benefit the two Koreas and Russia not only economically but also politically by quoting Karl Marx as saying, ``Economics is infrastructure and politics is superstructure.

``If there is long-term engagement between the two Koreas, it would help to promote better political understanding, and in this case Karl Marx was correct, he added.

yoonwonsup@koreatimes.co.kr

03-18-2007 18:10

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