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Stage set for six-party talks
(China Daily by Hu Xiao)
Updated: 2004-02-23 23:47

Delegations from Russia, Japan and the United States arrived in Beijing Monday in the lead up to the second round of six-party talks, which are scheduled to open Wednesday.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov arrives at Beijing International Airport February 23, 2004. [Reuters]
They are expected to be joined in the Chinese capital today by representatives from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK).

The talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, which are scheduled to be held at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, are widely seen as a result of a flurry of arduous diplomatic activities aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the continuing standoff. They come in the wake of the first round of six-party talks in August.

Before then, Beijing hosted an initial talks between Washington and Pyongyang in April.

Heading up this week's talks will be Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Kim Kye-gwan, deputy foreign minister of the DPRK, the ROK's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Lee Soo-hyuck, James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the United States, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losiukov and Mitoji Yabunaka, director-general of the Asian and Oceania Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

More than 600 reporters, from home and abroad, have applied with the Chinese Foreign Ministry to cover the talks, a ministry official told China Daily.

China has set up a news centre at the Diaoyutai Hotel in west Beijing.

It consists of private rooms and a hall that can accommodate 300 people during briefings, in addition to Internet, fax and copying services.

Press officials or delegates will be invited to the news centre to update journalists, but the timing of the briefings will depend on the development of the talks, the ministry official said.

Although the duration of the talks has not been decided, insiders say they could run for at least three days.

The Russian delegation was the first to arrive in Beijing. Losyukov said yesterday at the airport that he was "cautiously optimistic" over the upcoming talks.

Also yesterday, Wang and Losyukov reached a "wide consensus" during an "in-depth" discussion on the progress of the six-party talks, according to a press release from China's Foreign Ministry.

Both heads urged all sides involved "to show flexibility and sincerity" and "avoid confrontations" when discussing the issue.

Wang briefed the Russian delegation on the preparations for the latest round of talks and the major problems facing all sides, the release said, without giving any details.

The release said both heads stressed that efforts should concentrate on setting up objectives and a framework for resolving the issue.

Previously, the parties involved have expressed a desire to record the consensus they have already reached in a written document, believing the joint document will help further the progress of the process of the talks.

The US, ROK and Japan have already gathered in Seoul from Sunday to yesterday for policy co-ordination.

The nuclear issue erupted in October 2002 when the United States said the DPRK had admitted to reviving its nuclear arms programme.

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