SEOUL, South Korea – Officials in Asia greeted the prospect of a resumption of talks on North Korea's (search) nuclear weapons programs with caution and hope on Wednesday but noted that no date had been set.
The United States on Tuesday said it had wooed North Korea back to negotiations on the Koreans' nuclear weapons program, though no timetable was set.
North Korea brought no clarity to the issue — mentioning in a statement Wednesday that it held meetings with U.S. officials but giving no indication of a renewed commitment to return to talks.
Instead, the North again lashed out at Washington for reported comments by a defense official — in a position later withdrawn by top U.S. officials — that time was running out before the United States would seek to refer Pyongyang to the United Nations for sanctions.
Japan (search) said Wednesday it would be happy if the talks resume and that if they do, credit should go to China for pushing ally North Korea back toward the table — echoing comments from U.S. officials.
South Korean presidential aide Chung Woo-sung said that although the news of a possible resumption in talks was "a good sign," the North "has not set a date."
"It is too early to jump to a conclusion," he said.
China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said in New York that the talks were likely to resume in the next few weeks in Beijing.
Even if the arms talks reconvene, the U.S. and North Korea remain so deeply divided that it remains to be seen if they could compromise, said Peter Beck, Seoul-based director of the North East Asia Project for the International Crisis Group (search).
"It's not clear to me that another round is going to accomplish anything more than the three previous rounds," he said. "I'm not holding my breath on either side seeing the light."