Special delegates from Seoul and Beijing will convene on Wednesday to discuss restarting the long-abandoned efforts to denuclearize Pyongyang, more than six years since the last six-party talks. China and South Korea will pick up from their previous attempts in October to get North Korea to engage in the roundtable dialogue that would include Japan, Russia and the United States, according to Seoul’s foreign ministry.
"The two sides plan to exchange views over the situation on the Korean Peninsula and have in-depth talks on ways to reopen the denuclearization talks," Seoul’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday, Korea Times reported. South Korea’s nuclear delegate Hwang Joon-kook, who will arrive in Beijing on Wednesday before departing on Thursday, is expected to meet with Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei during the stay, according to Yonhap News Agency.
Efforts to denuclearize North Korea have stepped up in the recent months, as Pyongyang showed signs of trying to restart its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, the reclusive nation’s first reactor that also produced fissile material for its nuclear weapons tests in 2006 and 2009. South Korea, the United States and Japan delegates met in Tokyo last week to discuss North Korea’s nuclear threats, reported Arirang, and defense chiefs from South Korea and China are set to meet in Seoul on Wednesday to discuss bilateral defense cooperation regarding the North, according to Korea Herald.
The last meaningful six-party talks that made progress toward denuclearizing the North occurred in December 2008, when the United States took the country off of its list of state sponsors of terrorism. North Korea left the talks behind the following year, as it went ahead with its nuclear missile test launch despite warnings from the other nations in the talks.
North Korea’s foreign relations have steadily deteriorated ever since, with the United States reinstating the North on the list of terrorist sponsors after it allegedly hacked into Sony Pictures over the release of the comedy film “The Interview” in late December. Pyongyang maintains its innocence in any involvement in the hacking.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has given indications that he is willing to look toward diplomacy, however, as indicated in his New Year’s address about high-level inter-Korean talks. The talks have been in limbo, as Pyongyang wants Seoul to lift its sanctions before attending, but Seoul said on Jan. 26 that any terms will be discussed at the dialogue, not before.