U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says
the United States and its partners expect North Korea to return to nuclear
disarmament talks only if it is ready to negotiate seriously. Secretary
Rice and diplomats from other nations met on the sidelines of the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
The subject of North Korea's October 9 nuclear test continued to overshadow meetings aimed at trying
to break a deadlock in stalled world trade negotiations.
The United States and its partners in the six-party North Korea talks
have been using the occasion of having five of the six nations in one
place to plan the next round of negotiations - which North Korea has
agreed to attend after a year-long boycott.
However, the United States and others have been skeptical that the
North is ready to negotiate. Several rounds of talks since 2003 have
yielded no concrete result. Furthermore, North Korea last year agreed to
take steps to give up its nuclear programs in exchange for aid and other
benefits, only to carry out a nuclear test last month.
After one of the meetings here at APEC Thursday, U.S. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice told VOA the United States and other participants
in the talks want to be sure that North Korea is ready to deal this
"This has been a very useful conference," she said. "We did
have a discussion of North Korea this morning. I think everyone is very
much devoted to the full implementation of resolution 1718. Everyone is
looking forward to the six-party talks but there is widespread agreement
that they must this time have a concrete outcome."
The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1718 in
October after North Korea's nuclear test.
U.S. diplomats are due to meet with officials from China, the host of
the nuclear talks, on Friday to talk about setting a date for them -
probably in December.
Other participants in the talks are Japan, Russia, and South Korea -
whose leaders will all be at the APEC summit.
Despite the attention given to North Korea, APEC organizers have tried
to keep the focus on trade. Calls continued on Thursday for all sides to
show flexibility in re-starting world trade negotiations, which are key to
moving ahead with a long-term plan for a free trade area across the
Making a strong case for quicker action are business leaders, advising
their governments at this meeting. Raymond Ch'ien is chairman of CDC
Corporation, a software and Internet company that does business across the
Pacific - and would like to do more.
"My business is headquartered in Hong Kong, but most of our software
products are actually American products - Canadian and U.S. products," he
explained. "So, with further development or liberalization of world trade,
especially now, more and more, the WTO discussion, touches on trade and
services. It would just make it easier for us to compete in markets like
China, and markets in Vietnam."
Ch'ien says his access to the Chinese software market is severely
restricted by regulations that he says would be reduced if negotiations at
the World Trade Organization succeed.
The talks have been held up in a dispute over agricultural subsidies
In their final statement Sunday, APEC members are expected to commit to
making more trade concessions to break the impasse.
Ministers wrapped up preparations for the summit, which will be held
Saturday and Sunday as leaders of APEC's 21 economies are arriving in the
Vietnamese capital. President Bush is due in Hanoi on Friday after a visit