Merkel suggests Germany should join N. Korea talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks a new round of negotiations with Pyongyang.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks a new round of negotiations with Pyongyang.

BRUSSELS • Chancellor Angela Merkel, seeking a fourth term in office in elections on Sept 24, has moved to highlight her international status by calling for a new round of negotiations with North Korea - including Germany.

Already hailed by some in the era of President Donald Trump as the main defender of the West and its values, Dr Merkel has stepped forward to suggest a diplomatic alternative to the aggressive language being exchanged between Washington and North Korea.

As ever, she made her point by responding to a question. "If we were asked to join talks, I would say 'yes' immediately," she said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung published on Sunday.

She drew a parallel with the multilateral talks with Iran over its nuclear programme. Those talks were begun by the Europeans and later expanded to include the five permanent member states of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, and chaired by the European Union's foreign policy chief.

The talks became mainly a negotiation between the United States and Iran, but were supported and confirmed by the others, which gave Washington cover for sensitive talks with Teheran.

She called that negotiation period "a long but important time of diplomacy" that ultimately had a "good end" last year, referring to when the deal was put in place.

"I could imagine such a format being used to end the North Korea conflict," she said. "Europe and especially Germany should be prepared to play a very active part in that."

During the US presidential campaign, Mr Trump said his top priority if elected would be "to dismantle the disastrous deal".

In office, he has talked about not recertifying Iran's compliance. But other signatories, like Dr Merkel, regard the deal as a breakthrough.

NY TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Merkel suggests Germany should join N. Korea talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe