North Korea has apparently ended its tantrum, noticed that no one got very unnerved by their antics, and has decided to return to the six-party talks. Not only that, but Pyongyang apparently has committed to reaching an accord with the US by October:
North Korea has told officials in South Korea it is willing to take part in six-party talks on its nuclear arms program in June, a Japanese newspaper reported.
Pyongyang also said in its message, which was conveyed to South Korea by unofficial routes and then to Japan by Seoul, that it was willing to sign a treaty with the United States by October, the conservative Sankei Shimbun said on Monday.
North Korea declared on Feb. 10 that it had nuclear weapons and that it was pulling out of the talks, which include Japan, Russia, China and the United States as well as the two Koreas.
The Kim regime had apparently hoped to scare up enough defeatism in the United States to allow the North Koreans to force Bush into bilateral talks, the kind of negotiating the Democrats wanted to promote during the presidential campaign. However, Bush wants North Korea’s neighbors to have stakes in the process and outcome, and also want to impress upon the Chinese that if Pyongyang goes nuclear, the US can arrange for Japan and Seoul to do the same.
So once again the grown-ups at the Bush White House have won another round of diplomacy where the Democrats wouldn’t have had the nerve to play. It’s yet another reason why we’re better off with Bush serving a second term than having John Kerry bringing back Madeline Albright for an encore.