Sunday, February 11, 2007

Which came first, North Korea talks or Aesop's fables?

So have North Korea and the United States managed to agree on something in their tortuous talks on the state's nuclear weapons program? --Yes, Aesop's fable about counting chickens before they hatch.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice started the ball rolling on Thursday. "I am, as I said, cautiously optimistic but I don't count my chickens until they are hatched," she told lawmakers on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Then U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill and North Korean delegate Kim Kye-gwan echoed Rice as they met the press after discussions in Beijing on Friday.

"There are still differences on a series of issues in the overall talks, so we will try to work them out," Kim said. "You should not try to count the chickens before they hatch, as somebody said."

North Korea has always played a long game in the negotiations over its nuclear ambitions, living up to another Aesop recommendation that "slow and steady wins the race."

The United States, for its part, has always been wary of the "wolf in sheep's clothing" but may conclude that "persuasion is often more effectual than force."


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