And people wonder why I’m so unenthusiastic about talking with North Korea:

In response to the proposal for dialogue from Seoul and Washington, Pyongyang demanded “an apology” as a precondition for talks.

The North Korean army’s Supreme Command gave an “ultimatum” to the South Korean government yesterday.

“If the puppet groups indeed want a dialogue and a negotiation, they will have to show their practical will to cease and apologize for all of their anti-DPRK hostile acts they have committed so far,” the statement read.

Some are putting a positive spin on things, though:

“Despite being conditional, the remarks did not rule out the possibility of talks and negotiations,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute.

He said that Tueday’s statement was less offensive, compared with the statement ― issued April 23, 2012 ― that criticized the Lee Myung-bak administration and the South’s conservative media.

“At that time, the North excluded the possibility of talks,” Cheong said.

On a related note, John Kerry apparently held out the possibility of reducing US missile defense assets in Asia as a carrot to get China to do more:

The US has made a proposal to China to reduce or withdraw the missile defense network it is building in East Asia as a way of defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

This is the strongest and most specific proposal Washington has made since the tensions began. With the measures emphasizing China’s role as the only country will any real influence over North Korea, the question now is how Beijing will react.
“Obviously if the threat disappears, i.e. North Korea denuclearizes, the same imperative does not exist at that point of time for us to have that kind of robust forward leaning posture of defense,” he said at the conference. “And it would be our hope in the long run, or better yet in short run, that we can address that.”

Kerry’s also saying the United States is ready to talk with North Korea. See that? Talk some shit, play a bit of Move-the-Missile, and the Americans want to talk. Fortunately for us, the North Koreans don’t want to talk, so no biggie.

Anyway, back to the Chinese. Personally, I’m really not keen on rewarding the Chinese for sitting on their hands while their ally not only went nuclear, but then proceeded to threaten everyone and their brother with Armageddon. I’d be more inclined to negotiate with the Chinese from a position of equality—say, offering to trade Taiwan’s or Japan’s nuclear program for North Korea’s. Alas, that’s not likely to happen, so I suppose Kerry’s proposal will do if the Chinese can rein in the North Koreans without Washington having to make separate concessions to Pyongyang.