Reuters reporting on Yahoo News, with my HT to World Politics Review's media roundup email.
To me, this is a very good sign:
North Korea has held secret talks with Japan in what is believed to be their first contact since the death of long-time leader Kim Jong-il, Japanese media said, as Pyongyang's closest allyChina and South Korea vowed to work closely on denuclearizing the North.
Amid a series of diplomatic contacts over North Korea in China, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing to discuss ways to preserve stability on the peninsula as the unpredictable North undergoes a delicate transition of power.
Hiroshi Nakai, a former Japanese state minister in charge of the abduction issue, met the North's delegation on Monday for talks on the abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 80s, Japan's Kyodo news agency quoted sources as saying.
The two sides are also believed to have discussed terms for restarting intergovernmental negotiations, the Mainichi Daily News reported.
Nakai's office confirmed his trip to China. A government official declined to comment on the trip.
Two logical explanations:
- China didn't want to push anything until Kim Jong Il passed; and
- Beijing now wants to capture successor Kim Jong Eun on the diplomatic front before any internal purging process pushes Pyongyang toward displays of aggression toward the West.
How does Beijing do this? It makes a big show of supporting KJE to put him in a good place, and says these efforts are part and parcel of achieving the same internationally.
If this is not China as a "responsible stakeholder," then I don't know what is.
So, again, a very good sign.
Would be nice if Obama Administration made it own overtures amidst this diplomatic flurry. Could prove decisive and keep us suitably in the mix. Alas, I think the White House is already too invested in its "strategic pivot" to contain Chinese power in East Asia, which, to me, is a perfect 20th century answer to a 21st century phenomenon.
But I can always hope for common sense to re-emerge post-election . . ..