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Philip Zelikow says step-by-step diplomacy in Korea has failed, so it’s time to try something new

The two Koreas should be at the center of the denuclearization process, with the backing of the US and China, to resolve the decades-old nuclear standoff and establish a peace regime, a former American diplomat told a forum Wednesday.

Philip Zelikow, former counselor of the US Department of State and director of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, suggested that the countries go beyond focusing on technical parts of denuclearization to achieve “results.” Zelikow was deputy to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from 2005 to 2007, when six-party talks among the Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia were underway to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Negotiations collapsed in 2008, with North Korea declaring the deal void after refusing inspections to verify compliance. He helped draft the US policy toward North Korea, which envisioned turning the armistice agreement into a formal peace treaty to end the 1950-53 Korean War.

Whether it is about dismantlement of nuclear and missile weapons programs, or the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea, the countries should put all of them on the table and let diplomacy play out simultaneously on multiple fronts as the “step-by-step” approach has failed multiple times in the past, he said.

“When you work on a narrow view of denuclearization track, it almost always turns into a step-by-step negotiation,” he said during Wednesday night’s session on a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at the 13th Jeju Forum.

“And the step-by-step process, we now tried at least three times, has always failed. It always failed, because when you get into a step-by-step approach, North Koreans try to sell you things that don’t matter to them, and you pay them things they don’t want very much,” he said. “Both sides end up being frustrated and unhappy.”

“We are not used to broad, front diplomacy of open issues, with no preconditions, to talk about everything that concerns us, but that’s actually the state we are at now. It is the best way to get a denuclearization,” he said. ...

Read entire article at The Korea Herald