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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 August, 2003, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Press wary over Korea nuclear talks
A North Korean soldier observes the border with South Korea
Peeping over the parapet: North Korea has finally agreed to talk

Newspapers in countries neighbouring North Korea have given a cautious welcome to Pyongyang's offer to participate in multilateral talks on its nuclear programme.

The press in South Korea, Japan and Russia see the talks as only the first step towards resolving the crisis on the peninsula.

A few South Korean papers are unreservedly approving of Pyongyang's move.

It is too early to be relieved
South Korea's Taehan Maeil
The mass circulation Choson Ilbo describes the North's acceptance of six-nation talks as "a positive improvement of the situation".

"A great turning point" in resolving the nuclear issue is how the pro-North Hangyore views the announcement.

Caution urged

But there is a general consensus that it will be difficult to predict what will happen next. Many papers warn against being overly optimistic about the outcome of the talks.

"It is too early to be relieved," writes the pro-government Taehan Maeil.

Hangyore is equally cautious. "It is too early to conclude that results will be easily attained," it says.

The pro-Pyongyang paper points to the North's "uncertain policies" as a possible stumbling block for any negotiations.
The US is still reserving its strategy of carrying out dialogue and pressure side by side
South Korea's Tong-a Ilbo

The moderate Chungang Ilbo is sceptical about the North's intentions in agreeing to the talks.

The paper views it as a move by Pyongyang "to drag Russia, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, to their side to cope with US pressure".

Other papers believe Washington's attitude may hinder the success of the talks.

The moderate Tong-a Ilbo says the US "is still reserving its strategy of carrying out dialogue and pressure side by side".

International action

Several papers call on Seoul to "take the lead" in organising the talks.

The South Korean Government must "exercise its diplomatic power to the maximum degree," says the Taehan Maeil.

But Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun believes that all countries involved should take equal responsibility for the success or failure of the talks.
The entire North Korea crisis is largely the USA's fault
Russia's Krasnaya Zvezda

It says that it falls to the international community to "continue to take a tough attitude towards North Korea in the days ahead to force it to respond to the world's demands".

The five countries must come up with a "common understanding" on North Korea, the paper says, as there are currently differences on how to encourage Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programme peacefully.

"Should this difference of opinion widen, it might give North Korea the opening it is looking for," it warns.

'US to blame'

The Russian Defence Ministry newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda takes a different view.

"There is cause for hope in the very fact that this intermittent and murky process is now acquiring some urgency and clarity," it says of the multilateral talks.

But it adds that only Washington can solve the nuclear crisis. "The entire North Korea crisis is largely the USA's fault, and depends entirely on relations between these two countries."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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