Bolton says 6-Party Talks not the US’ preferred method to resolve NK nuclear issue

Posted on : 2019-04-30 18:29 KST Modified on : 2019-04-30 18:29 KST
Remarks appear aimed at containing Russian and Chinese influence in negotiations
White House National Security Advisor John Bolton during an interview at the White House on Mar. 29. (Yonhap News)
White House National Security Advisor John Bolton during an interview at the White House on Mar. 29. (Yonhap News)

On Apr. 28, White House National Security Advisor John Bolton flatly stated that the Six-Party Talks, which were recently mentioned by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a way to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, are not the method preferred by the US. Bolton’s remarks were apparently aimed at keeping a discussion about the Six-Party Talks from spreading and at preventing Russia and other neighboring countries from intervening in the North Korean nuclear issue. Russia has notably underlined its stake in the North Korean issue, which it describes as a “critical issue in the region.”

When asked during an interview on Fox News Sunday whether US President Donald Trump supports resuming the Six-Party Talks as Putin proposed following his recent summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Bolton said that the Six-Party Talks are not the US’ preference, while noting that the US does not mean to exclude neighboring countries.

“Kim Jong-un, at least up until now, has wanted the one-on-one contact with the United States, which is what he has gotten,” Bolton added.

Bolton explained that the Six-Party Talks approach had failed in the past, but added that “that doesn’t mean we don’t consult” other countries. These remarks hint at the approach preferred by the mainstream in the US government: focusing on one-on-one talks with North Korea while sidelining Korea’s neighbors on the denuclearization issue.

When Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, asked whether Putin was helping with the denuclearization process, Bolton said, “I think both Russia and China could tighten up their enforcement of the sanctions.” These remarks appear aimed at limiting the role of Russia, which has asserted its role as another messenger for North Korea following Putin and Kim’s summit, to implementing sanctions on the North and strengthening their enforcement of those sanctions. “Bolton was basically putting a preemptive check [on North Korea],” said a diplomatic source who is familiar with North Korea-Russia relations.

On the other hand, Russia has been taking steps to be more involved in Korean Peninsula issues since the North Korea-Russia summit. “For us, North Korea is a neighboring country. We have a common border and when we deal with North Korea we are acting in our home region,” Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said during an interview on the "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin" program on the Rossiya-1 television channel, according to TASS and other Russian media.

“When the [Americans] deal with North Korea they are acting in our region, not [theirs],” Peskov also said. Russia is apparently emphasizing that it’s one of the major countries connected to the North Korean nuclear program and other issues related to the North.

“Russia doesn’t seem very inclined to make a splash by defecting from the international sanctions regime. So far, both Russia and North Korea only seem intent on flaunting political symbolism,” another diplomatic source said.

In related news, TASS reported on Apr. 29 that Putin asked the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East to analyze a project to build an automobile bridge across the border with North Korea, a matter that was apparently discussed during his summit with Kim.

By Hwang Joon-bum, Washington correspondent, and Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

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