There seems to be positive energy coming from the Korean Peninsula, and from the nations of the lately stormy South China Sea. On the issue of North Korean nuclear ambitions, we are now aware that secret and clandestine meetings have been entered into between major negotiators — chief nuclear envoys — of the Koreas. A main topic of the meetings has been the hope of resuming six nation talks which could end the North Korean nuclear threat, the North Korean attacks, and as well, the hunger and poverty in North Korea.
The Six Nations have tried on many occasions in recent months to re-open the lines of communication. South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, have refused to confer with North Korean leader and supreme commander Kim Jong-Il until he issues an apology for the sinking of the Cheonan 15 months ago, and the shelling of the South Korean Island of Yeongpyong in November. Kim Jong-Il felt the attacks were justified, and has steadfastly refused to make apology. Now, however, as a result of the new negotiations, the six party talks are scheduled to recommence, as soon as possible. It is unclear what statements the North Korean leader may have made; Kim Jong-Il is old and frail, and the people of the North are starving, while the south has food and needed fertilizers. Wi Sung-lac, the chief negotiator for the South, and the North’s Ri Yong-ho are in Bali, an Indonesian island, just north of Australia. The gentlemen are attending a forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also in Indonesia addressing that Asian nation summit. Secretary Clinton has made strong statements regarding the issue of the South China Sea, which in recent weeks has seen a flareup of exchanges as China repeatedly attempts intimidation of the nations bordering that sea. Vietnam has felt the pressure of China’s determination to establish domination and to then harvest the oil and gas-rich sea region. Vietnam has called upon the United States for aide in defending from trespass and bullying, Vietnamese shores, by the far more powerful China. Singapore too has called on Beijing to clarify claims to disputed areas of the South China Sea.
Clinton assured our allies in the region that the United States will not be eclipsed by “rising China”; she referred to the increasing aggression of the Chinese Navy, and said that “recent incidents” threatened the peace and stability of the region. She added that these incidents are a threat to the safety of life at sea, undermine freedom of navigation, and pose risks to lawful commerce and economic development.