Beijing, China — After four days, the Beijing talks on North Korea’s nuclear program have not generated much progress, with US negotiator Christopher Hill entering day five without much optimism.

Hill is blaming North Korea for its stubbornness in not budging on its demand that financial sanctions against it are lifted. The US claims that the financial sanctions are not linked to the nuclear issue, and have to do with alleged money-laundering and counterfeiting tied to a Macau bank.

“We cannot be diverted from what we need to do in the six-party talks, which is to have the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington.

In an interesting turn,
Forbes reported
that South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun blamed the US for compromising a deal reached last September by implementing the financial sanctions at a sensitive time.

If the current round of negotiations ends in deadlock, it will not be the first time and it’s not unexpected. With clear bargaining advantages in both camps, North Korea and the US are reluctant to give up ground. There even aren’t many symbolic gestures that either side could pose, as both want to preserve positions of strength. Any commitment to dismantle its nuclear arsenal, would defeat North Korea’s bargaining position. Lifting financial sanctions, would make North Korea less vulnerable and thus harder to deal with for the US.

So if this round ends in deadlock, it won’t be surprising, as both positions are not compatible with each other. And there’s also the issue of the four other states at the same negotiating table.

Dmitri Marine blogs on Blogue North

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