Jeffrey LewisNorth Korea To Return To Six Party Talks

Maybe it was the duck, but North Korea is willing to attend Six Party Talks in Beijing the week of July 25.

A senior administration official traveling with Secretary Rice told Joel Brinkley at the New York Times that North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan made the announcement during a dinner meeting with lead US negotiator Christopher Hill and hosted by the Chinese.

No word on what the Chinese served. (Speaking of which, I am off a minute to chi a little fan here in Beijing myself).

Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post got a slightly more detailed version, of the story from an anonymous official, adding “Kim said the purpose of the talks was the ‘denuclearization of the Korean peninsula’ and that North Korea intended to make progress at the negotiations.”

The North Koreans also put out a statement.

SECSTATE Rice, however, reportedly lowered expectations, noting “It’s only a start” and that “the goal of the talks to have progress.”

A “senior administration official” got all macho for Brinkely’s co-author on the Times piece, the prolific David Sanger:

“We’ve made it clear they can’t just come back and lecture us, like the last sessions,” a senior administration official in Washington said. “Either they get on the path to disarmament, or we move to Plan B.”

Yeah, I’d love to know what Plan B is, exactly.

Bob Gallucci has been asking that question for years.

Note: I am just guessing on the division of labor between Brinkely and Sanger.