PYONGYANG, North Korea # Face to face talks between North Korea’s leader and a South Korean presidential envoy did not take place as expected in Pyongyang Tuesday after Kim Jong Il failed to appear for the meeting.
Presidential envoy Lim Dong-won waited until late into Tuesday night in the North’s capital, Pyongyang, for an expected meeting with Kim on the nuclear crisis, Reuters reported a Seoul official as saying. The reclusive leader never showed.
“Lim Dong-won will return to Seoul without having a meeting with Kim Jong Il” said a South Korean Unification Ministry official.
No reason was given for the Kim’s failure to meet Lim, who was carrying a message from South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.
Lim Dong-won held talks Tuesday morning with North Korea’s Number 2 leader Kim Yong Nam # a meeting South Korean officials say is a standard prelude to an encounter with the so-called “Dear Leader.”
A face-to-face meeting with the North Korean leader would have been seen as a significant step in Seoul where officials believe only Kim Jong Il himself has the necessary decision-making clout to break the nuclear impasse.
Pyongyang is keeping up its hard line on the issue, warning the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog that it has no business getting involved in the dispute.
In a stinging commentary Monday, the North’s official news agency said the International Atomic Energy Agency was a “poor servant and mouthpiece” of the U.S., adding that the agency was “in no position” to discuss the nuclear dispute.
On Sunday, the IAEA announced it was indefinitely postponing an emergency session, which was to discuss whether to refer the North Korean issue to the U.N. Security Council.
The agency called off the meeting, scheduled for February 3, after the South warned it could undermine efforts to resolve the crisis.
Lim, a former reunification minister, was dispatched to Pyongyang on Monday with a letter from President Kim Dae-jung urging the North Korean leadership to give up its nuclear ambitions.