By Alex Jensen
North Korea will be returning to the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD) for the first time since 2012 when the meeting convenes in Beijing next week, one of the organizers confirmed Saturday -- a further indication of Pyongyang’s desire to pursue diplomacy in the face of sanctions.
The NEACD will also bring together officials from China, the United States, Russia, Japan and South Korea.
While six-party denuclearization talks involving all those nations stalled in 2009, next week’s dialogue will present a so-called Track 1.5 opportunity to bring together government officials and civilian experts.
The term Track 1.5 is used to denote a situation in which official and non-official actors work together to resolve conflicts.
“I can confirm that representatives from the North Korean government will attend,” one of the media handlers from the U.S.-based Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation told local news agency Yonhap on Saturday
North Korea has carried out two nuclear tests following its last attendance at the forum, which has moved around various locations worldwide since being launched in the early 1990s.
Having been hit by tougher United Nations sanctions this year, Pyongyang has tried in vain to reach out to Seoul for bilateral talks -- South Korea’s position is that the North must first demonstrate a willingness to denuclearize.
Despite North Korea’s desire for dialogue and multiple Unites Nations resolutions barring nuclear tests, Pyongyang has repeatedly emphasized what it sees as a sovereign right to develop atomic weapons.
China is treading a delicate path between cooperating with its old ally Pyongyang and enforcing sanctions as a means to bring about a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. is taking the platform seriously, announcing this week that it will be sending Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim to Beijing for the meeting between June 21-23.