Former President Jimmy Carter arrived in North Korea on Tuesday for talks aimed at reducing tensions with North Korea. This trip looks similar to his first visit in 1994.
Without six-party talks, there will be no opportunity to dissuade North Korea from testing another nuclear device. The US is trying to keep the conversation open.
The timing is widely interpreted in South Korea as a dividend of Chinese pressure to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula – and the meeting this week between President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
North Korea had threatened a harsh response if South Korea went ahead with military exercises in disputed waters Monday. But it could still take action, experts say.
North Korea and South Korea have both raised the stakes in a Yellow Sea confrontation, with each side wanting to save face.
Jimmy Carter left North Korea with American Aijalon Gomes and a message that Kim Jong-il wants to resume six-party talks, even if he didn't want to talk to Carter.
New North Korea sanctions will target the banking sector in order to curtail the purchase and sale of weapons. The US-imposed sanctions also aim to stop the import of luxury goods for the elite surrounding leader Kim Jong-il.
North Korea has refrained so far from retaliating against the ongoing US-South Korea war games. Analysts say the North may try a long-range missile test toward the United States or Japan.
North Korea sanctions announced by Hilary Clinton on her visit to South Korea's DMZ Wednesday are a display of solidarity to ease South Korean concerns about the American commitment.
The sinking of a naval ship in March called into question the longtime 'Sunshine Policy.' But could dire health care problems and new UN talks help ease North Korea's isolated stance in time for six-party-talks?