N. Korea talks: billateral, multilateral, or both

Was Biden right last night? Has China asked for US/N. Korea dialogue in parallel with the six-nation talks?

I notice the right blogosphere (e.g., Derbyshire on The Corner at 10:16 last night) is beating up on Kerry for saying that he wanted to have both bilateral and multilateral talks with North Korea, as if that were a contradiction. Joe Biden said last night that the Chinese had asked us to engage in bilateral talks in parallel with the six-country talks; if that’s right, then “both” is the right answer.

Can any reader fill me in on the facts?

[Update: Fred Kaplan says all of the other participants in the six-way talks want the U.S. to talk bilaterally with N. Korea. Is it possible Bush didn’t know this? I’d say the Kerry camp is missing a big chance if they don’t hit this one hard, and keep hitting it.]

One thing Kerry didn’t say that he might have said: Whatever the format of the talks, we’ll do better if we have adequate forces not tied up in Iraq to act militarily if we can’t get our way at the conference table.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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