22 October 1998
(North, South Korea, U.S., China meet for second day) (350) By Wendy Lubetkin USIA European Correspondent Geneva -- On the second day of peace talks between North and South Korea in Geneva, the head of the U.S. delegation expressed optimism that the current round will conclude with an agreement on the formation of two subcommittees: one on replacing the Armistice with a peace arrangement, and the other on confidence-building measures to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Ambassador Charles Kartman, the U.S. Special Envoy for Korean Peace Talks, said October 22 "I feel rather optimistic that we are going to come to some sort of agreement by the end of this round of talks." The participants in the Third Plenary of the Four-Party Talks are North and South Korea, China and the United States. In accordance with the established rotation, South Korea is chairing the current plenary, which is open-ended. The U.S. has stated that its goals for the talks are the reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula and the replacement of the Armistice with a permanent peace arrangement. The previous plenary of the Four-Party Talks, held in March 1998, failed to make any progress after North Korea insisted on U.S. troop withdrawals from South Korea and a separate peace accord with the United States. Kartman said the North Korean position "remains quite firm," but that "quite a bit of progress has been made in narrowing the differences." Kartman spoke with journalists outside the Geneva office building where the talks are being held after the conclusion of a morning head-of-delegation meeting. He said additional work to bring the two sides closer together would be done during the afternoon "in a deputy-head-of-delegation" format. "We're trying different formats, as you can see. I feel rather optimistic that we are going to come to some sort of agreement by the end of this round of talks," Kartman said.