US makes fresh push for 6-Party Talks
By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-09-01 06:59

Christopher Hill, US chief negotiator for the Six-Party Talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, will travel to Beijing next Tuesday, sources with the US embassy in China said yesterday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, bottom center, speaks to journalists in Beijing Thursday, July 13, 2006. Hill, who has been meeting Chinese leaders to discuss North Korea's missile launches, said China had so far failed to make headway in its campaign to bring North Korea back to six-party nuclear talks. Hill is to return home later Thursday.[AP]

Although Hill's complete schedule is not available yet, reports quoted an unnamed official of the US State Department saying that he would meet with his six-party counterparts and hold discussions with senior government officials "on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest."

As well as Beijing, Hill will also travel to Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province and the major industrial centres of Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, will leave Washington on Sunday and visit Tokyo on Monday.

He will travel to Beijing on Tuesday and will stop in Seoul on September 11 before returning home the next day.

Analysts said Hill apparently wants to meet his counterparts from the three nations to discuss how to deal with the long-stalled nuclear talks as well as measures to deal with Pyongyang's missile tests in line with a UN Security Council resolution.

With the Six-Party Talks in a state of paralysis, Liu Jiangyong, a senior researcher with Tsinghua University, said Hill is attempting "to break the stalemate through a new round of shuttle diplomacy."

He said recent news reports that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) may be preparing to conduct a nuclear test are also likely to be on the agenda.

The nuclear talks have become more pressing after Pyongyang raised tensions in early July by test-firing seven missiles despite international objections.

"The current situation is detrimental to dialogue in the East Asia region," Liu said.

He said the missile launches have sparked the upgrading of US and Japanese military capabilities in the region, which will further disrupt the security balance.

A peaceful solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula still conforms to the interests of the United States and Japan, Liu said.

And that is why Hill is hoping to reaffirm and improve commitment from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea to restart the talks, he said.

Liu said Seoul is taking similar action, as President Roh Moo-hyun is reported to be about to visit the United States for the same purpose.

The Six-Party Talks, which involve China, the United States, the DPRK, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan have been stalled since the fifth round last November, with Pyongyang refusing to return to the table unless Washington removes its financial sanctions.

(China Daily 09/01/2006 page2)


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