WHAT THE NORTH KOREANS REALLY SAID….The Guardian reports that China has put more pressure on North Korea than most observers were expecting:

This leverage appeared to have paid off today when China’s special envoy to Pyongyang, Tang Jiaxuan, put a “strong message” to Mr Kim. According to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, the North Korean leader expressed remorse for putting China in a difficult situation and demonstrated a willingness to compromise.

“If the US makes a concession to some degree, we will also make a concession to some degree, whether it be bilateral talks or six-party talks,” the North Korean leader was quoted as saying by an unnamed diplomatic source in Beijing.

That sounds promising. That is, it sounds promising until you go to the Chosun Ilbo website and read what it actually says:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told a special Chinese envoy on Thursday the hermit nation will only return to six-party talks on its nuclear program if the U.S. lifts sanctions, according to a Chinese diplomatic source.

The source quoted the North Korean leader as telling State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan on Thursday morning that North Korea will negotiate on its nuclear program, be it in new bilateral talks with the U.S. or the existing six-way framework, if the U.S. makes some concessions.

That sounds rather less promising, doesn’t it? Stay tuned.