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North Korea: Beijing talks to be held soon
( 2003-08-05 07:17) (China Daily)

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced yesterday that six-party talks on the settlement of the nuclear issue would soon be held in Beijing.

"The six-party talks for a solution to the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the United States will be held in Beijing soon thanks to the former's initiative and peaceful efforts,'' a DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency.

The DPRK and the United States said on Friday they had agreed to hold six-way talks on the nuclear stand-off.

The impasse arose in October when the United States claimed the DPRK had revived its nuclear arms programme.

China, Japan, Russia and the Republic of Korea (ROK) will also attend the talks.

The timing and venue of the talks are yet to be formally announced.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said yesterday China welcomes the DPRK's decision and supports the expansion of the "Beijing talks.''

The prospect of fresh negotiations comes after the United States and the DPRK met in the Chinese capital in April to break the impasse.

Pyongyang previously insisted on talking only to the United States, while Washington preferred a multilateral format to discuss the issue and demanded the DPRK dismantle its nuclear weapons programmes first.

As a close neighbour of the DPRK, China stresses the importance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, said Kong.

He said China had remained flexible about the format of the talks and maintained close contacts with all concerned to achieve the new round of Beijing talks.

 Piao Jianyi, executive director of the Centre for Korean Peninsula Issues Studies with the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, told China Daily the coming talks would be just a beginning and the process of resolving differences over the nuclear issue could last for "two or three years.''

 "Both sides (the DPRK and the United States) lack mutual trust so it is hard for them to reach 'substantive' agreement in a short time,'' Piao said.

However, the expert said the United States and the DPRK were likely to make some promises after "long and hard'' negotiations.

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