'Talks set to resume soon'

By Le Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-23 07:18

The Six-Party Talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula are likely to restart early next month following a flurry of diplomatic activity to fix the date.

US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, after a whirlwind trip to the region, said yesterday in Beijing that talks would resume soon and he had seen "basis for progress" for the talks, which involve the US, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Korea (ROK), China, Japan and Russia.

"We hope that the Chinese government will be able to announce the start-up of the talks soon," said Hill, who is also the chief US nuclear negotiator, before heading for Washington yesterday morning. Hill earlier visited the ROK and Japan to discuss the issue with his counterparts.

The ROK's Yonhap News Agency quoted sources from the country's foreign ministry as saying yesterday that China might announce the date for the new round of talks "either today or tomorrow", but the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not confirm a date.

Hill's trip to China was followed by DPRK chief negotiator to the talks Kim Kye-gwan and the ROK chief delegate Chun Yung-woo, who arrived in Beijing yesterday for discussions with Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, the top Chinese negotiator.

Before flying to China, Kim held talks in Moscow on Sunday with Russia's chief negotiator, Alexander Losyukov, on the prospects of resolving the dispute.

Hill suggested yesterday that roadblocks would be cleared at upcoming talks after he and Kim held three days of bilateral talks in Berlin last week.

"Based on all the consultations we've had in the last week or so, I think we have a basis for getting together as soon as possible in the six-party process and making progress," he told reporters.

A ROK newspaper reported yesterday that the DRPK and the US were close to an agreement on the DPRK freezing its nuclear activity and allowing international monitoring in exchange for energy aid.

But Pyongyang also demanded greater US flexibility on the financial restrictions imposed on it as part of initial steps toward ending its nuclear program, Chosun Ilbo said, quoting diplomatic sources.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said on Sunday that the earliest possible date for the resumption of talks was early February, Kyodo news agency reported.

The six nations resumed talks in Beijing late last month after a 13-month hiatus but recessed without a breakthrough after five days of tough consultations.

(China Daily 01/23/2007 page2)

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