Global Politics

North Korean nuclear talks

(Describe the scene at these talks.) This is an annual summit and it's the one arena in which you get all the big powers together. In previous years, Secretary Rice has chosen not to come to this summit. It's important she was here for this meeting and all the leaders met for an hour and delivered well rehearsed positions about North Korea's nuclear program. The atmosphere was good and Secretary Rice took pains to emphasize this. I think it was a very important symbolic gesture. And everyone wants to move forward. (What is the headline?) I think the symbolism is the most important aspect of it, and it does actually matter for a country like North Korea. This kind of meeting was inconceivable between the US and North Korea just a couple of years ago. (How serious is North Korea that they're going to make big changes?) Of course you never know with North Korea and the reality is you have to treat every incremental step with North Korea as a major step. The actual credible verification will take many months. (Do you think the negotiations are firmly entrenched enough so that the next US administration can expect concessions from North Korea?) Nobody can know that and that is the problem with this process and there is skepticism on both sides. But North Korea is looking like the one place the Bush administration can get some foreign policy successes. This process is going to go on for a very long time though, and nobody knows how the North Korean regime will evolve going forward.

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