Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sticking with the Theme...

From Will's post on the 6PT is this article from the online edition of the Financial Times.

Because of the ongoing dispute over the funds still in limbo, several officials involved with the talks, such as Wu Dawei, the chief Chinese negotiator, are expressing pessimism that the North will meet the deadline. Others, however, such as Japanese envoy Kenichiro Sasae seem focused less on the date itself, noting “Even if it is delayed, the important thing is to carry out what has been agreed and that is still possible.”

While I'm not particularly inspired by the delay, how the North is acting, or how the other parties are reacting, I am encouraged by what seems to be Mr. Sasae's appreciation of the larger picture.

The article is interesting, as well, because it provides some pretty granular detail as to what is holding the process up. It reports that authorities in Macao are in the process of contacting some 50 individuals who have accounts with BDA in order to obtain their approval to wire their money to the Bank of China in Beijing. Apparently, one of the account holders has passed away, as well, making matters worse (no beneficiary has been named).

The FT piece has a quote or two from Michael J. Green, former senior director for Asian affairs at the NSC, holder of the Japan Chair at CSIS, and professor at Georgetown, that kind of snapped me out of a fog with regard to the whole point of the talks.

While many discussions of the hitch have centered on the technical issues involved in getting the DPRK its money, this exercise can't be about everyone asking North Korea just how high we should jump. Sure, the US and others have to hold up their end of the bargain. But I think most would agree that a good faith effort has been made to do get the North its money. From the reporting I've seen in the media it at least seems that way. At some point, intentions have to count for something, right?

Some, of course, would point to the way the North has handled this and say the song has remained the same with regard to Pyongyang's negotiating (delaying) tactics, level of suspicion, and general obstinance. Others would say they are simply following the agreement word for the most literal sense possible.

I'm not surprised, but I think the state of affairs speaks to just how incremental this process will have to be (if we're assuming all parties are even genuine in their efforts) to begin to chip away at the lack of trust that seems to permeate interactions between the North and the other 5 parties.

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