On the eve of a historic summit between the leaders of North and South Korea, bilateral talks between the United States and North Korea continued this month, with no promise of major developments. Ambassador Charles Kartman led a delegation to Rome to meet his North Korean counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan, May 24 in the first meeting of the two negotiators since talks adjourned March 15 without agreement on a high-level North Korean visit to Washington.
Slated for discussion were issues surrounding implementation of the 1994 Agreed Framework, preparations for a new round of talks on the North Korean missile program, and efforts to improve the U.S.-North Korea bilateral relationship. Although State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said May 30 that the sides had "made progress," the State Department announced no breakthroughs on a high-level visit, North Korea's status on the list of states that sponsor terrorism, or missile issues. North Korea has stated that it will not visit Washington while still on the terrorism list. (See ACT, April 2000.)
While discussions continue about the future of the Agreed Framework, an inspection team from the United States visited North Korea to inspect the suspected nuclear site at Kumchang-ni. The team, which inspected the site from May 25 to 27, "found conditions unchanged since the first visit a year ago in May 1999," Reeker explained. The May 1999 inspection showed no signs that North Korea had violated the 1994 agreement. (See ACT, April/May 1999.) North Korea has designated the site "an unspecified national security related facility," Reeker said.