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U.S. envoy visits North Korea

US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly and his 9-member team will arrive in North Korea this Thursday from Seoul, capital of South Korea. This 3-day visit will not be accompanied by any reporters, and so it is difficult to predict what topics could be included in the talks there.

This will be the first US delegation from the Bush Administration to visit North Korea, which has been labeled by President Bush as part of an “axis of evil” along with Iran and Iraq.

Pyongyang has recently made a number of bold diplomatic moves. It first apologized to Japan for kidnapping Japanese citizens. Later, it hired a Chinese businessman to run a special economic zone in North Korea to begin its capitalist experiment. Now, it is willing to talk to the U.S., a longtime enemy of North Korea. Many speculate that the food shortage and shaky economic conditions have forced Kim Jong Il to look to the West, particularly in light of the fact that both China and Russia are no longer dependable friends in need. If North Korea can turn around and discuss its missile and nuclear programs with the U.S., as one observer in Boston has noted, it is likely that a potential future partnership will be in the making, and this of course will take time for both sides to develop into that sort of relationship.

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