BEIJING - The next round of six-party talks could make concrete progress
toward persuading North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons, China said on Tuesday,
but set no deadline for the long-running negotiations.
resume on December 18 after more than a year's suspension, China announced on
"I'm not a fortune teller. I can't predict the progress of the talks," Qin
Gang, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, told a regular news briefing in
"We hope that the talks can achieve results. We hope the six-party talks are
able to substantially advance the goal of denuclearization of the Korean
Qin said the talks would focus on how to implement a joint statement from
September last year "in a comprehensive and balanced way," adding that
negotiators faced no deadline to reach an agreement. The meeting would be
flexible, allowing for two-way and multilateral discussions between the
countries, he said.
"Whether it's in the meeting or on the sidelines, or even in the toilet, all
sides can engage in exchanges," he said.
Asked by reporters about China's expectations for progress in this session of
talks, Qin said: "That depends on what type of effort the six parties make."
The on-off talks between the Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and
host China stalled late last year over Pyongyang's objections to U.S. financial
penalties. Washington said North Korea was counterfeiting U.S. currency and
The fresh diplomatic push comes two months after North Korea tested a nuclear
device on October 9, stirring a wave of international condemnation that brought
even its long-time supporter, China, behind U.N. Security Council sanctions.
Pyongyang later agreed to return to the six-party talks, but it has taken
weeks of diplomatic shuttling to agree on a date.
The six teams of negotiators will be seeking to flesh out a joint declaration
signed by all sides in September 2005, over two years after the six-party talks
Under that vague deal, North Korea agreed to "abandoning all nuclear weapons
and existing nuclear programs" in return for aid and security guarantees from
the United States and other countries.
Washington's top negotiator on North Korea, Assistant Secretary of State
Christopher Hill, may hold discussions with other envoys before formal meetings
begin, the State Department said on Monday. Qin said he did not know when the
delegations would arrive in Beijing.