Jeffrey LewisNorth Korea: Cappucino Diplomacy

The fifth round of the Six Party Talks (9-11 November 2005) ended a few days ago, with little or no progress.

Talks foundered over myriad issues, complicated by distractions such as the President’s description of Kim Jong-Il as a “tyrant” and the revelation that the Fed might as well outsource some of its printing needs to North Korea.

On the bright side, Unification Minister Chung Dong-young told reports that North Korea released a five step roadmap for an agreement:

Under the plan, North Korea said it would first halt any plans for nuclear tests and agree not to transfer nuclear technology or materials to other nations, Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said in Seoul.

The North would then agree not to produce more weapons, and afterward suspend and later dismantle its nuclear program, subject to verification, Chung said.

Finally, the North would rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and safeguards under the International Atomic Energy Agency, Chung said.

No, I don’t count five steps in there, either.

Speaking of mathematical puzzles, no word either on how many cappacinos this latest round cost Li Zhaoxing:

“During the fourth round, which was divided into two sections, (we calculated that it) added up to 2,500 cappuccinos (coffees) consumed by all the participants and staff members,” [Chinese Foreign Minister] Li [Zhaoxing] said.

“Another estimate put it at 4,000 cappuccinos, all these cappuccinos were of course at my cost and were imported from EU countries. So we indeed contribute to the talks.”

Chosun Ilbo reports talks will resume before the Lunar New Year on January 29.


  1. J (History)

    Actually, there are five steps:

    1) Abstain from nuclear testing;

    2) Do not transfer nuclear materials;

    3) Halt production of further nuclear weapons;

    4) Suspend and dismantle its nuclear program;

    5) Rejoin NPT and IAEA safeguards.

    Several observations:

    a) The DPRK explicitly referenced several activities that cross U.S. “red lines” and would explicitly promise not to cross those lines: nuclear testing and export of nuclear materials;

    b) For the first time, a DPRK representative formally references the North as having “nuclear weapons”, not merely nuclear “deterrent” or some other ambiguity. That may have been done earlier, but never in an official forum.

    c) The U.S. delegation made no reference whatsover to this DPRK offer and instead focused on the lack of progress. Why is that? Why did Chris Hill not mention this offer and the U.S. response, instead of talking about the low-enriched nuclear reactor issue that the North did not emphasize in these talks?

  2. MKH (History)

    This isn’t the first time the Bush admin has engaged in “coffee diplomacy” with the North Koreans. The first high level meeting since Madeline Albright’s visit was between Powell and Paek Nam Sun for 15 minutes, “over coffee” in July 2002.

    See progress – from 1 coffee to 4,000 cappuccinos in just 3 short years…now if we just get some non-dairy creamer on the agenda…

    Karen DeYoung, “Powell and N. Korean Hold Informal Meeting,” Washington Post, July 31, 2002, p. A12.

  3. Paddy Cakes

    Ya just can’t know the six way players without a program.

    Find two here: