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North Korean diplomat: Six-party talks are dead, Bill Clinton and Kim Jong Il have ‘good personal understanding’

This September 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia provides a rare opportunity to hear a North Korean official speaking candidly. According to the document, the Mongolian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s deputy director for Asian affairs, J. Sukhee, briefed U.S. Embassy officials about talks between North Korea’s Vice Foreign Affairs Minister Kim Yong Il and ...

This September 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia provides a rare opportunity to hear a North Korean official speaking candidly. According to the document, the Mongolian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s deputy director for Asian affairs, J. Sukhee, briefed U.S. Embassy officials about talks between North Korea’s Vice Foreign Affairs Minister Kim Yong Il and the Mongolian president. The talks apparently focused heavily on North Korea’s nuclear program and U.S.-North Korea relations. In particular, Kim seemed to dismiss the idea of continuing the six-party talks:

Kim took a “very hard line” on the Six Party Talks according to Sukhee, stating that the DPRK will never return to the talks, that the talks were dead, but that the door has not closed on an opportunity for negotiations. During discussion of the Six Party Talks, Kim criticized Russia and China for their support of recent UN resolutions aimed at the DPRK. Kim said Japan and the ROK were natural allies of the United States during the talks, and that Russia and China ended up supporting the other three, so that the DPRK felt it was five against one. Kim stated the real intention of the Six Party Talks was to destroy the DPRK regime, and that at present the DPRK wants to talk only to the United States.

Surprisingly, Kim also seemed to acknowledge the extreme poverty in his country at a time when the regime was spending millions on nuclear reactors:

VFM Kim said the DPRK is spending too much on weapons rather than on its children, but that the current reality dictates that they cannot get away from weapons for now. Kim said the DPRK is not a threat and was only interested in self-protection. The Mongolian side expressed concern that a nuclear DPRK could lead to a nuclear ROK, Japan, Syria, and Iran, and urged that the Mongolian nuclear-free model could serve as an example. Kim stated the United States would not allow Japan or the ROK to go nuclear and that the DPRK is committed to peace and denuclearization.

Kim also seemed extremely optimistic about the recently concluded visit from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, telling the Mongolian leader that there is a "good personal understanding" between Clinton and Kim Jong Il. The deputy foreign minister hoped that Clinton’s sway in the Democratic Party would influence the White House:

Regarding former President Clinton’s recent travel to the DPRK to secure of the release of the two journalists, Kim said this action had been prepared for a long time, meaning the groundwork for such a visit was already in place because of the progress the United States and the DPRK made during the Clinton presidency. Kim said forward motion stopped during the Bush Administration but was now able to proceed because of President Clinton’s recent involvement in a personal capacity, because President Obama is of the same party, and because former First Lady Clinton is now the Secretary of State. The North Koreans were expecting a dialogue with the United States to start soon as an extension of President Clinton’s visit. 9. (S) Kim asked the Mongolians to support a U.S.-DPRK dialogue (Sukhee described Kim as “enthusiastic” at this point), and he stated “there are no eternal enemies in this world.”

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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