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President: 'Open dialogue' key to talks
( 2003-08-22 07:02) (China Daily)

President Hu Jintao said Thursday the upcoming six-party talks in Beijing represent an important step towards the peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

Chinese President Hu Jintao

South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun

Hu made the remarks during a telephone conversation with Republic of Korea (ROK) President Roh Moo-hyun.

The talks will be held in Beijing from August 27 to 29.

Hu said all relevant parties should avail themselves of the opportunity to exchange views and reach more consensus to maintain the dialogue for a peaceful solution.

Roh expressed appreciation and gratitude for China's unremitting efforts to make the six-party talks possible.

The talks will bring together the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States, China, ROK, Russia and Japan.

Beijing hosted initial talks with Washington and Pyongyang in April but no details were released by the participants.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced yesterday that Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Yi will head the Chinese delegation. Leaders of the other five delegations were also announced: Kim Yong-il, DPRK deputy foreign minister; James Kelly, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs; Alexander Losiukov, Russian deputy foreign minister; Lee Soo-hyuck, ROK deputy minister of foreign affairs and trade; and Mitoji Yabunaka, director of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Foreign Ministry of Japan.

"If some positive results can be achieved this time, one can optimistically estimate they (six parties) may promote their status of their representatives to a higher level," said Piao Jianyi, executive director of the Center for Korean Peninsula Issues Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Piao said: "One thing is certain heading into the talks -- no participant wants to escalate the situation because they believe the military option serves no one's interests.

"It is more practical if the participants agree to resolve the issue step by step," he added.

The challenge for the talks is whether the DPRK and the US can find "common ground" to start, said Piao, adding that he believes each side will seek the "hard-won" points.

Agreement to hold the talks followed a flurry of diplomatic activities to restart a dialogue on the standoff, which erupted in October after US officials claimed Pyongyang had admitted to reviving a programme to produce nuclear weapons.

"It is hard to predict an early breakthrough because time is needed to build mutual trust between the US and DPRK," Piao said.

"But at least these talks will provide a platform for the participants to continue talking in the future."

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