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Should US hold bilateral talks with N. Korea?

A Chinese delegation visited Kim Jong-il this week to press for reengagement on the North's nuclear program. The US, which has said it's open to talks, must deal with a deeply suspicious S. Korean leadership.

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Mr. Green says that he doubts US officials "will abandon the six-party process in pursuit of bilateral talks." Rather, he predicts, "they'll do both."

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Call for a Nixon to China approach

South Korea's President Lee's tough line faces formidable opposition from South Korean liberals, who wish to perpetuate the Sunshine policy initiated by the late Kim Dae-jung during his presidency from 1998 to 2003.

Mr. Kim, who died on Aug. 18, signed a joint declaration with Kim Jong-il during the first inter-Korean summit in June 2000.

Chung Dong-young, whom Lee defeated in the 2007 presidential election, was to call Friday for President Barack Obama to invite Kim Jong-il to Washington in keeping with Mr. Obama's campaign expression of willingness to talk to the leaders of countries hostile to the US.

In planned remarks at the National Press Club in Washington, Mr. Chung said a summit between Mr. Obama and Mr. Kim would be analogous to the summit between former President Richard M. Nixon and China's leader Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1972.

Chung, who served as unification minister under Lee's leftist predecessor, acknowledged that "The North Korean leadership's behavior makes it hard to trust them."

But, he argued, "what's more important is to know exactly what their real intentions are" and "seize this new opportunity of dialogue."

Limited initial goal

US officials have made clear that initial talks will not go beyond the objective of getting the North to return to multilateral dialogue – something North Korea has declared it will never do.The general sense is that bilateral talks would serve as a chance to get acquainted in view of the apparent softening of North Korea's confrontational policy that began when former President Bill Clinton spent three hours and 17 minutes with Kim Jong-il in early August.

Mr. Clinton's visit was ostensibly unofficial, a chance to bring home two women who were captured while filming along the Tumen River border with China, but he briefed Mr. Obama, and presumably Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, after getting back.

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