Top US envoy for the six-party talks
Christopher Hill (L) speaks to media in Beijing December 21, 2006.
Six-party talks on scrapping North Korea's nuclear weapons were set to
gain momentum on Thursday after the chief US negotiator raised guarded
hopes of agreement by week's end on preliminary steps towards that goal.
The Six-Party Talks on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula have entered a
stage of "earnest, candid and pragmatic discussion on substantial issues," the
Foreign Ministry said yesterday amid indications that the latest round would end
"All parties hope to continue to make concerted efforts to press ahead,"
ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing.
remarks came amid hopes for a breakthrough in the multilateral negotiations,
which involve host China, the United States, the Democratic People's Republic of
Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan.
Negotiators held "intensive" bilateral consultations at the Diaoyutai State
Guesthouse in Beijing yesterday, the Chinese delegation's spokeswoman, Jiang Yu,
They were seeking specific actions to implement a September 2005 joint
statement, in which the DPRK committed to abandon its nuclear programme in
exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.
However, it boycotted the talks two months later in protest against US
The top US negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, said
last night that his delegation would hold another one-on-one meeting with the
DPRK before the current round of talks ends today.
The two sides met again yesterday to try to narrow their differences, the
third direct contact between the two main protagonists in the talks, which
opened on Monday after a 13-month hiatus.
Yesterday's discussion between the two sides appeared to focus on a new set
of what many believe were improved incentives for the DPRK to give up its
Ahead of yesterday's talks, Hill called on the DPRK not to let the financial
issue divert the negotiations. "I'd rather not obscure that urgent problem (of
denuclearization) by talking about finances," he said.
However, the Japanese chief negotiator Kenichiro Sasae told reporters later
yesterday the talks "are in an extremely difficult situation" due to the DPRK's
insistence on the US taking the first step and lifting financial sanctions.
"The situation is extremely difficult, and there is no prospect of a
breakthrough," said Sasae, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's
Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.
"The biggest reason for the difficulty is that there is no sign of
flexibility" on the part of the DPRK over the financial restrictions, he said.
Liu Jiangyong, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University,
said a document like a joint statement or communiqu could be released at the end
of the current round to pave the way for the next round of talks.
"The frequent bilateral contacts between the US and the DPRK during this
phase of the talks show Washington has changed its tone in dealing with the
DPRK's nuclear programme," Liu told China Daily.
"The Bush administration wants a Christmas gift, particularly considering the
pressure of domestic politics, so it might make some concessions during the