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North Korea six-way talks may start Aug 26, report says
( 2003-08-09 10:51) (Agencies)

Six-way talks aimed at resolving the standoff over North Korea (news - web sites)'s nuclear program may begin on August 26, Japan's Nihon Keizai Shimbun daily said Saturday.

The United States, South Korea and Japan have conveyed to China their wish to start two days of talks on that date in Beijing, the paper said, without citing sources.

A Chinese delegation is now in Pyongyang trying to make the final arrangements, it added.

The report comes at the start of a weekend of shuttle diplomacy ahead of the negotiations.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yasuo Fukuda, is set to arrive in China Saturday and meet President Hu Jintao, while Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing visits Japan from Sunday.

North Korea agreed last week to take part in multilateral talks, after insisting previously on bilateral negotiations with the United States to resolve a crisis over its plans for nuclear weapons. The talks are expected to involve Japan, Russia and China as well as South Korea and the United States.

Japanese newspapers have said officials from the United States, South Korea and Japan will meet for preparatory talks on August 13/14 in Washington.

The impasse over North Korea's nuclear program started last October after U.S. officials said Pyongyang had admitted to pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program.

No one was available for comment at the Japanese foreign ministry Saturday.


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