USIS Washington 

21 October 1998


(U.S. envoy sees "progress" at talks)  (530)

By Wendy Lubetkin

USIA European Correspondent

Geneva -- North and South Korea, China and the United States resumed
four-way talks aimed at reducing tension and establishing a lasting
peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The Third Plenary of the Four-Party Talks opened October 21 following
bilateral meetings among the participants in Geneva.

"We are still working, and I think we are making progress," said
Ambassador Charles Kartman, U.S. Special Envoy for the Korean Peace
Talks, at the end of the first day of the four-party discussions.

The talks, which are being held in a Geneva office building near the
United Nations, have no set duration. At the end of the first day,
South Korea, which is chairing the current plenary, announced that the
talks would continue for a second day on October 22.

The day before the talks commenced, the United States held short
bilateral meetings in Geneva with each of the other parties.

Following the October 20 bilateral meeting between the United States
and North Korea, Kartman said he believed the North Korean delegation
had come to Geneva "with a serious purpose."

The meeting, which lasted approximately one hour, "went a little
longer than I expected because we had a good deal of ground to cover,
and we covered some of our expectations for the Four-Party meetings
and some of the bilateral issues that are still pending between us,"
Kartman said.

"The atmosphere was quite good and serious," he added.

The previous round of Four-Party talks, held in Geneva in March 1998,
concluded without agreement after North Korea insisted that
negotiations on the withdrawal of U.S. forces and a separate peace
treaty be placed on the agenda.

At the resumption of the talks October 21, the morning session was
devoted to keynote speeches by all four parties, and the afternoon
session was dedicated to discussion of those speeches.

As chairman, South Korean Ambassador Park Kun-woo was the first to
address the meeting. Park said he hoped the South and North would
manage to "break free from the old political and military
confrontation and conflicts."

In a text made available to the press in Geneva, Park said: "I
earnestly hope that all the four parties will demonstrate the spirit
of cooperation and accommodation in this round, so that we could
overcome our differences which surfaced in the first and second
plenaries and attain some tangible and substantial progress in the

Park proposed that the talks be convened "at regular intervals, for
example every three months."

"This third round of talks was held no less than seven months after
the second plenary," he noted. "Considering that we all wish to
establish peace and reduce tension on the Korean Peninsula as soon as
possible, we believe that the present state, where we cannot even
predict the dates of the next round of the Four-Party plenary meeting,
should not go on indefinitely."

The texts of speeches by the other delegations were not made available
to the press.