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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; February 11, 2010

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TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; FEBRUARY 11, 2010

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which is struggling with a rising jobless rate. The ROKG should
come up with various scenarios, while urging the U.S. and China to
exercise restraint and reiterating the danger of neo-protectionism.

THE WAY FOR N. KOREA TO ESCAPE ECONOMIC CRISIS IS TO RETURN TO THE
SIX-PARTY TALKS AND GIVE UP ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM
(JoongAng Ilbo, February 11, 2010, Page 30)

Attention is drawn to whether the Six-Party Talks on the North
Korean nuclear issue will resume soon. When Wang Jiarui, head of
the Chinese Communist Party's International Department, recently
visited Pyongyang, North Korea leader Kim Jong-il did not clearly
express his intention to rejoin the Six-Party Talks. However, right
afterwards, North Korea's Chief Nuclear Envoy, Vice Foreign Minister
Kim Kye-gwan, went to China and met with Chinese Special
Representative for Korean Peninsula Affairs Wu Dawei, giving a push
to both nations' efforts to seek a compromise.

It has been about 14 months since the Six-Party Talks were
suspended. So far, North Korea has pushed for a second nuclear test
and launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). In
response, the international community imposed sanctions against
North Korea through the UN Security Council resolution. Meanwhile,
North Korea saw its economy fall into a bottomless pit after failing
in its efforts to reform the economy by tightening market controls
and strengthening the planned economy. The recent currency
revaluation that the North carried out as a last resort has
reportedly worsened the situation. This suggests a higher
possibility that North Korea may rejoin the Six-Party Talks. Now
that it has become clear that the North cannot get out of an
economic crisis without outside help, Pyongyang will have no choice
but to take an active stance on the resolution of the North Korean
nuclear issue.

Once the Six-Party Talks restarts, discussions on the nuclear issue
will likely be accelerated more than before. The nuclear
disablement process, which included the demolition of a cooling
tower at the 5-megawatt reactor in Yongbyon in 2008, will resume and
move forward at an early date and, accordingly, the UNSC sanctions
will also be lifted. In particular, there could be progress in
discussing the establishment of a peace regime, North Korea's strong
desire. If an inter-Korean summit is also held in line with this
progress, the stalled inter-Korean exchange projects will be
reactivated. Furthermore, if the North Korean nuclear issue enters
the phase of a complete resolution, it will be possible for the ROK
and the international community to fulfill their promises of massive
aid to the North.

This is the only way for the North to emerge from the economic
quagmire that has persisted (in the country) for over 20 years.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il should stop dithering and make a
decision to return to the Six-Party Talks.


FEATURES
---------

U.S. DENIES SPECULATION ABOUT U.S.-NORTH KOREA CONTACT
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, February 11, Page 8)

By Reporter Lee Yong-in and Correspondent Park Min-hee

North Korea's Chief Negotiator Kim Kye-gwan reportedly visited China
at the invitation of former Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei,
who currently serves as a member of the standing committee of the
National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative
Conference (CPPCC).

However, observers are voicing different opinions on (the purpose
of) his visit, (questioning why) Kim was accompanied by Ri Gun,
Director General of American Affairs at North Korea's Foreign
Ministry and Choi Sun-hee, North Korean interpreter for the

SEOUL 00000218 004 OF 004


Six-Party Talks.

There is speculation that North Korea may attempt to have contact
with the U.S. shortly after coordinating the nuclear issue with
China.

At the end of last October, Ri visited the U.S. and consulted with
Sung Kim, U.S. Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks, at the
Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD) meetings in New York and
San Diego. At that time, Ri was accompanied by Choi Sun-hee.

However, an ROKG official said on February 10, "I didn't hear
anything about the North Korean delegation led by Vice Foreign
Minister Kim Kye-gwan visiting the U.S. (to make contact with USG
officials.) " adding, "U.S. delegates to the Six-Party Talks are not
in China now." During a conference call with reporters on February
9 (local time), U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs
Philip Crowley answered "No" when asked if (the North Korean team
led by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan) plans to visit the U.S.
or meet with a U.S. official.


STEPHENS

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