Friday, Aug 15, 2003
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
"The President will be the person who will choose who will head the U.S. delegation. That decision hasn't been made", remarked the White House spokeswoman, Claire Buchan, going on to say that this announcement is expected shortly.
But in Canberra the Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, has said that the hardline Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton, is not scheduled to take part in the Beijing round scheduled for between August 27 and 29.The United States, Russia, China, South Korea, Japan and North Korea will participate in the six nation talks.
"Mr. Bolton was not scheduled and will not participate in those talks", Mr. Armitage has said in a press conference. Mr. Bolton is known to be a vocal and a fierce critic of North Korea and its leadership there; and Pyongyang recently made it known that it is not for the participation of Mr. Bolton in the Beijing meeting.
During a recent trip to the Asia Pacific, Mr. Bolton upped the rhetoric and denounced the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il during a visit to South Korea. Mr. Bolton argued that life is a "hellish nightmare" under the leadership and rule of Mr. Kim.
"While he lives like royalty in Pyongyang, he keeps hundreds of thousands of his people locked in prison camps with millions more locked in abject poverty", Mr. Bolton said in a speech.
And North Korea fired back seeing the remarks as inappropriate, perhaps even intemperate. A spokesman referred to Mr. Bolton as "such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks". Pyongyang has further referred to Mr. Bolton as an "animal running around recklessly" and a "fascist" who makes it a business to make "malignant personal attack".
Neither the State Department nor the White House made any attempt to distance from what Mr. Bolton said in Seoul. To the contrary the State Department issued a Statement saying that the Under-Secretary's Speech in South Korea titled "A Dictatorship at the Crossroads" was indeed "coordinated and cleared"; and the White House has stepped in to say that Mr. Bolton was speaking on behalf of the administration.
The U.S. President, George W Bush, has spoken of North Korea as being a member of his "Axis of Evil"; and hardliners in this Republican administration are perhaps elated at the manner in which Mr. Bolton has gone about attacking Pyongyang and Mr. Kim. But there are those in the Asia Pacific, and allies of the U.S., who do not wish to see high flying rhetoric getting the upper hand or getting out of hand.
South Korea and Japan are two nations favouring a less hardline and tight fisted approach against North Korea. In fact officials of the two countries are holding talks today here with Bush administration officials as some kind of a preparatory meeting ahead of the Beijing talks. The two day/ three-way meet will see the American delegation led by the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific, James Kelly.
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