- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 21, 2005

Thinking big

President Bush’s envoy to the nuclear talks with North Korea is thinking beyond an agreement to get the isolated communist country from building a nuclear arsenal.

Christopher Hill, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, thinks the negotiations can lead to a new diplomatic climate in the region, our correspondent David R. Sands reports.

Addressing an overflow crowd last week at the Asia Society, Mr. Hill discussed his efforts in nearly two weeks of intensive talks recently in China to end the Korean nuclear crisis.

The latest round of the “six-party” talks was suspended Aug. 7 and is scheduled to resume next week when envoys from North and South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States gather in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

Mr. Hill said success at the talks could be a springboard to a far broader diplomatic and political revolution across Asia. Many other problems and opportunities in the region are on hold because of the bitter Korean standoff.

“The hope is that the six-party process can be a sort of embryonic structure for Northeast Asia,” Mr. Hill argued.

“It can serve to create new ties — new bilateral ties and a new multilateral momentum for the region.”

Mr. Hill said Asia’s rising powers lack many of the basic international links and organizations that abound in Europe, where he served in numerous posts, including as ambassador to Poland.

In Europe, “you have structure upon structure,” he noted.

“You have delegations getting out of limousines to go into these meetings, just as other delegations are leaving the same meeting halls. … One of the things that’s so striking when you’re in Asia is the fact that there needs to be a lot more of that,” Mr. Hill said.

He acknowledged that the larger diplomatic agenda “sounds very ambitious,” especially with a nuclear deal with Pyongyang still very much in doubt.

“But I think it’s very important that we be ambitious, that we have a compass, that we know the direction we’re going and we know why we’re going there,” he said.

“This is not just going to be another little arms control deal.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Foreign Minister Kassymzhomart Tokaev of Kazakhstan, who meets with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and members of the U.S.-Kazakhstan Business Association. He is accompanied by Zhandos Asanov, director of the Americas Department of the Foreign Ministry.

Tomorrow

• Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, who meets with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss the nuclear talks with North Korea. He is accompanied by Vice Foreign Minister Song Min-soon.

• A delegation from Afghanistan comprising Homa Shamim, training coordinator at the Afghan Center in Kabul, Palwasha Kakar of the Women’s Rights Office in Herat and Masooda Karoakhi, a member of the executive committee of the Directorate of Women’s Affairs in Herat and a candidate in the Sept. 18 parliamentary elections. They address invited guests at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Friday

• Bishop Vincent Darius of Grenada, the Rev. Clyde Harvey of Trinidad and Tobago, Monsignor Patrick Anthony of St. Lucia and Sister Barbara Flores of Belize. They address the first national convention of the Caribbean Catholics of North America meeting together with Migration and Refugee Services, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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