North Korea agreed today to return to six-nation disarmament talks on its nuclear program following a meeting in Beijing with Chinese and U.S. officials, a development that could ease tensions over the isolated country’s testing of a nuclear device three weeks ago.
North Korea’s unexpected decision, which was announced in the Chinese capital, would end Pyongyang’s yearlong boycott of the talks, which have dragged on for more than three years. Fourteen months ago, North Korea agreed in principle to dismantle its nuclear programs, but hard bargaining is still necessary to determine the sequence and timing of the incentives North Korea expects in return.
Pyongyang had refused to return to the talks until the United States separately negotiated an end to a crackdown on North Korea’s counterfeiting of U.S. currency. But that demand disappeared today during seven hours of meetings, set up by China at Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, involving U.S., North Korean and Chinese officials. North Korea instead agreed to a long-standing U.S. proposal to deal with the counterfeiting issue through a working group of the six-party talks.