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Europe

European Press Review: Talking with North Korea

Many of Thursday's European editorials commented on the meeting the multilater meeting on North Korea. Others focused on the inquiry in Britain on the death of weapons expert David Kelly.

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Delegations from six nations met in China to discuss North Korea's nuclear program.

Britain’s The Independent compared America’s two vastly different approaches to what it calls “rogue regimes.” In Iraq, the U.S. is learning the penalties of following a unilateral approach. Over North Korea, it’s taking quite a different course of multilateral negotiations over what the paper thinks has become a much more serious threat of real weapons of mass destruction. The paper said Wednesday’s talks as a good sign, but noted America and North Korea are as far apart as ever and they’ve lost each other’s trust. But, the paper added, the fact they are meeting at all gives reason for cautious optimism.

Copenhagen’s Politiken was more pessimistic. It said the talks with North Korea over its nuclear weapons got off to an expected bad start. Neither side is are budging, and many are afraid – for good reason – of what North Korea’s moody leader Kim Jong-Il might do. The paper said was China ready to put the thumb screws on Kim. In no way should he receive any support from China before he gives up a single weapon, the paper opined.

Along similar lines, Britain’s Guardian noted the meeting between the six countries is unique, especially because it is happening in China, which has been reluctant to play a diplomatic role. It wrote North Korea has also shifted a little by “swallowing its usual chauvinism”, by accepting the need for multilateral talks. But it’s going to be a long haul. The paper said the nuclear weapons factor adds a new dimension of danger and because of these supposed weapons, North Korea is unlikely to become a second Iraq.

Other European editorials were focusing on the Hutton Inquiry into the death of British weapons expert Dr Kelly. Britain's Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon testified before the inquiry on Wednesday that there had never been a "conspiracy" to publicly name David Kelly as the source of the allegation that the British government had "sexed up" evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to war. Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung said British public opinion will clamor for Mr Hoon's resignation, because a scapegoat is needed in the Kelly tragedy.

Rome’s La Repubblica observed how Defense Secretary Hoon performed in the stand on Wednesday. It noted that Hoon found himself in the same position as David Kelly who was subjected to similar questioning as he sat before a parliamentary committee. A couple of days later, the weapons expert was found dead in a forest in an apparent suicide. The paper said it was ironic that the men who made Kelly’s life miserable, are now experiencing a role reversal.

Switzerland’s Tages-Anzeiger commented on the apparent holes in Britain’s reasons for going to war that are emerging from the Kelly Inquiry. The paper said Blair’s government went into Iraq on dangerous ground. It used dubious information from the secret service as political propaganda to paint Saddam Hussein as a threat to the world. The paper said that these exposures will increase calls for an official investigation into Blair’s reasons for going to war. The Iraq issue is an ugly shadow hanging over Blair’s head concluded the paper.