ofAsian Pacific and Latin American Analysis
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Jiaxuan's trip to the North in9 to markh arrnrversary ofsad tbe visit in9igh-level defcgatiori led by NorthPresident Kim Yoog-ruun.
North Korean-Russian relauooj are also showing signs of inuprovcmcaj. Press reports inrlicace President Putin may meet Kim Chong-ilongyang as soon as next month. He would be following Foreign Minister Ivsnov's visit in February, draing which the two sidesew friendship and cooperation treaty andew chapter in bilateral relations- To be sure, there are practical limits: tbe North's estimatedillion debt to Russiaurdle to future aid or investment, has neither the desire nor tbe wherewithal to underwrite North Korea._
certainly wants Japan to provide food aid and olher assistance as incentives for continued talks.
North Korea and Japan in April resumed official nonmalizatioosuspended inreturn fox which Japanons of grain. The two sides may meet again this summer, after rhe Korea summit.
North Korean and Japanese Red Cross delegations late last year hammered out an agreement on humanitarianthe
. kTrinmgririF- aikgaboos.1
temporarily separating the issue from
official normalizationagreement tor now puts aside an issue thatticking point in earlier dialogties.|
nd New Friends
In addition, the North isider diplomatic net:
out to Europe and the Commortwealih. North Koreanormalized relations in January, and Australia followed suitFrench, British, Canadian, and Belgian delegations havewith the North Koreans, although they are more likely torelations with* np.liis nnd
Looking to Southeast Asia and South America. Press reports indicate the North could establish diplomatic tics to the Philippines next month and is seeking mcjnbership in the ASEAN Regional Forumnid-level Foreign Ministry delegation traveled to Sooth America in late9 prornoting expanded political and eec*Kranc ties;
Emphasizing commercial ties to Africa. After shuttering numerous missions in tbe receding two decades, the North is shifting its Africa policy from ideological solidarity and competition with Seoul toward financially profitable ticsew stales. This is taking the form prjxipally of arms sales
Temporizing on US Relations
Even as tbe North reaches out to the world, there axe signs it is rethinking the overwhelming focus on the United States that characterized North Korean diplomacy in:
Relations with Washington Mill loom large, but toe regime IS recant relative value against (he potentialfewer-ft om engaging South Korea, Japan, sod Western Europe. Pyongyang'sith the pace of progress since agreeing to the missile, launch moratorium last tall partly explains the shift, bubal hope for rapid agreement on sanctions easing or removal from the terrorism list has yielded to expectation ol arduous progress. The Northrom meeUr.es with tbe iiurooeacs aod others lhal US aloes arey CIS-North Korean engagement, however, sufcteaung it will tryncrantura and svok! biamereakdown. H
Diplonsatfc Outreach: Why Now?
The North's expanded diplomacyl internal developments and broader international trends in the Lite
the rsrospect tor aoYEUonal ventures with SouS Kogjn firms baa probably also buoyed the regime's economic oodoofc.
ExteraaJry. P'yongyang's resurgent diplomacy is aided by fading internal fecial concern over the ideological and conventional rnilitary threat posed by tbe North. These changing attitudes toward the North are nowhere more apparent than they are in South Korea, where Seoul's policy of encouraging its allies to develop tins to the
Honhey component of Kim Dae-Jung's eogagetneat policy. Moreover, engaging Pyongyang satisfiea individual coortnes' objectives:
Still Sbott on Substance
We are less certain, however, about whether tbe Norm's more aggressive foreign policyundamental shift io Kim Choog-U's strategic objectives orondnuaboo of efforts to acquire assistance without meaningful engagement. Ob tbe ooe hand, Kim's evident confidence In the security of fats post lion, willingness to meet tbe South Korean President, and personal outreach to the Chinese leadership suggest be sees ibe potential forore influential, modem, and prosperous North Korea. The tack of labstanec. on the other hand, in many of the North's dealings raise warning flags abeot bow far Pyongyang will go io accommodate Western deoiands;
Moreover, the North's taroisbed reputation poses continuing hurdles even for countries lhat are disposed loward diplomatic engagement:
msiUprolifemion. Miss.le exports lo Iran and other countries make the North subject to unilateral and multilateral export controls and are
Bad business. North Korean companies have racked up an unenviable record of broken contracts, missed payments, and fraud, making it difficult for the North to secure trade credits or other financial incentives. Meanwhile, the North's diplomats have been implicated in several smuggling, comucaieiimg, or narcotics cases-l
Discerning North Korea's CourseP
The North's expanding diplomatic horizons increase opportunities for gauging tbe leadership's rornmitrprnt to this new course. Kim's handling of inter-Korean relations after the summit in particular will be an indication of his adherenceore flexible foreign policy:
Following through on practical economic and political exchanges with Seoul willign that Pyongyang is moving further away from brinkmanship and confrontation in favor of long-term cooperation.
Poison-ptllast-minute cancellation, or efforts to
embarrass President Kim Dae-Jung with summit grandstanding will mean the North is still inclined toward short-term advantage.'
We should see similar signs in the North's handling of European priorities, such as human rights, in P'yongyang's participation in international forums, such as ARF, once barred to it, or in Kirn Chong-il's future dealings with foreigney variable is Kim Chong-il's patience tor what willomplex and slowly developing process. The North expects the summit to unlock other foreign assistance andonclusion probably buoyed by the positive comments of Western govenunents. We cannot measure Kim's expectations, but heack record of abruptly changing course and will be inclined to backtrack if he judges bis engagement strategy is not deu'vering tbe economic benefits needed to reverse the North's economic declines. He will also become frustrated if he concludes Washington is controlling the scope and pace of its allies' dealings with P'yongyang.