Japan’s chief negotiator Kenichiro Sasae said that “There is still a big gap remaining” and that “There was nothing that we can be optimistic about” but said he hope NK will “take a more forward-looking stance.” Apparently, NK takes umbrage to Japan’s stoic position against its nuclear weapons program and refused to meet with Tokyo while meeting the others.
Although no tangible progress is visible, there has been progress on engagement. US Treasury Departyment Deputy Assistant Secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes Daniel Glaser met with a NK delegation but conceded that “it’s going to be a long-time process” assuming that the talks are “really productive.” After meeting at the US Embassy, the next meeting will be at the North Korean Embassy. It also seems extremely unlikely that the US would or indeed should simply remove the financial restrictions as the North wants, because counterfeiting, trading in weapons of mass destruction, and possibly proliferation of nuclear weapons is not just a legal matter but also a great threat to international peace.
China sees itself as a facilitator of “the process of talks” and says that it wishes to see “positive achievements.” Chinese junior Foreign Minister says that the “first step” is “to map out the measures that help realize the joint statement” which will then help the teams “decide what moves we will take." China still hopes that the September 2005 Agreement in which NK agreed to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees will be the basis for forward movement. According to a Chinese press release, the 6 nations (NK, US, China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea) spent the first two hours focused on ways to implement the September 2005 Agreement. Not much progress has been made on that score either.
China is NK’s largest ally and is believed to have more influence that any other nation and the return of Pyongyang to negotiations is directly attributable to Beijing’s efforts.