SEOUL — Prospects for resuming multilateral talks over North Korea’s nuclear weapons are not “bright,” says South Korea’s top negotiator, offering a gloomy assessment of the North’s behavior in the wake of its recent leadership change.
“If somebody asks me what the prospects of the six-party talks are at this point in time, even though I’m sort of jobless at this point, I would be hesitant to answer that they look bright,” Lim Sung-nam, South Korea’s chief envoy to the talks, said Sunday at the East-West Center’s international media conference at Yonsei University.
The six-party talks — which include the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia — broke off in 2009 following a North Korean missile launch.
The U.S. and North Korea reached a deal in February to restore U.S. food aid to the chronically impoverished country in return for a moratorium on long-range-missile launches and uranium enrichment.
But it collapsed in April after North Korea, under new leader Kim Jong-un, unsuccessfully sought to launch a satellite into space.
Mr. Lim noted that the abortive launch followed an aggressive pattern of behavior, including the North’s sinking of a South Korean warship in March 2010 and its shelling of a South Korean island eight months later.
“Despite these provocations by North Korea, the Republic of Korea has remained committed towards a negotiated settlement of the North Korean nuclear crisis,” he said.