March 4, 2008

"U.S. relations with North Korea possible"

Followup to KR posting, North Korea and the US Engage in Cultural Exchanges

Now that Americans and North Koreans have played music together in Pyongyang (photo, NY Philharmonic's Lorin Maazel conducting North Korean orchestra), can the diplomats use the momentum to push forward the promised normalization process? Despite the current snag in the final implementation of the six-party process on nuclear disarmament, aid and exchanges, and normalization of relations (US-DPRK and Japan-DPRK), there seems optimism.

In addition to the unprecedented visit of more than 300 American visitors to North Korea during the NY Philharmonic's concert in Pyongyang (the largest number of Americans to set foot on North Korea since the Korean War), five U.S. government employees are stationed semi-permanently in North Korea to monitor the disablement process in the Yongbyun nuclear plant. Moreover, American scientists and Congressional staffers are frequenting North Korea to see if the Nunn-Lugar nuclear disarmament program can work in North Korea, that is, the training of North Korean nuclear scientists and technicians for conversion into other civilian industries. In addition to visits to North Korea by staff members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a visit by the Armed Services Committee staff members is in the works to assess potentials for regional security and peace mechanisms. All these flurry of diplomatic and civilian activities and exchanges shows a promise of resolution of the crisis.

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