Playing for Time

In the subtle semantics of diplomacy, the meaning of the word "success" must sometimes be broadened to include anything short of outright failure. Such was the case last Saturday at the close of the second round of six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program. After four days of intense negotiations at a secluded guesthouse in Beijing, officials from each of the participating countries—China, Japan, North and South Korea, Russia and the U.S.—expressed their satisfaction with a process the chief achievement of which was to have avoided falling apart entirely. "There was no breakdown but no breakthrough," says Lee Chung Min, a...

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