Getting back to Pyongyang

A goodwill messenger of peace from Washington to Pyongyang is at work. The little known Bill Richardson, governor of the US state of New Mexico, however, seems to be on a mission as he stakes his name for brokering peace in the region.

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Published: Thu 16 Dec 2010, 11:12 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:36 PM

His prime thrust is to ensure that a thaw is in the making, and one that would enable both the countries to make strides over issues of regional and bilateral conflict. The very fact that the State Department has given its green signal to a non-diplomat to trek on such a tricky business is not without substance. However, given to understand that Richardson for long has been visiting the Stalinist state goes on to indicate the level of off-the-record involvement that the US has in the region, and especially in dealing with the reclusive leadership of North Korea.

But is the US trying something new this time around as it sends down Richardson? Former US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton definitely enjoy larger clout in Pyongyang’s establishment, and could have been of more use had they been entrusted with a new mandate in the region. Richardson’s contention that though he is not carrying a brief but would be debriefed at the White House on his return is tactful diplomacy. At a time when North Korea’s primary concern is denial of formal bilateral talks with the US, one hopes Richardson can make the difference of at least paving the way for getting back to the table. Washington would be highly advised to open a formal window of communication with North Korea and cultivate it for a meaningful relationship.

The ball can be set rolling instantly if the US agrees to resume the stalled Six-party talks, which has been a demand on the part of China and North Korea. Dealing with the North is no two-plus-two number game, and Washington knows that better in all proximity. Nothing can stop Pyongyang from going further belligerent, until and unless a considerate policy of bringing it on board through international recognition and a robust economic plan is put into practice. It goes without saying that Pyongyang’s psychological benchmark to bounce back to real business is official acknowledgment from Washington. It’s high time this process of trial and error bears fruit for good.

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