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Working group gathers for 6-party talks
(China Daily/Xinhua)
Updated: 2004-06-22 00:33

The much-anticipated third round of six-party talks on the Korean peninsula nuclear issue got a step closer Monday morning.

The second working group meeting began in Beijing in preparation for the six-party talks scheduled from June 23 to 26.

The working group was to meet for two days behind closed doors.

Ning Fukui, ambassador on the Korean Peninsula affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and head of the Chinese working group presided over the meeting, sources said.

The six-party talks include China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan respectively.

China yesterday confirmed the members of its delegation to the six-party talks, said a Foreign Ministry source.

Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Assistant Foreign Minister Shen Guofang will serve as head and deputy head of the Chinese delegation.

The first round of six-party talks was held in Beijing in August 2003.

The six parties agreed to establish a working group mechanism during the second round in February 2004.

The first working group meeting was held in Beijing in May.

The participants confirmed that the third round of full six-party talks will be held before the end of June as scheduled.

The nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula erupted in October 2002, when US officials said DPRK had disclosed it was working on a secret programme to enrich uranium for weapons, in violation of an international agreement.

DPRK denied it had a uranium enrichment programme, but in early 2003 it threw out United Nations nuclear inspectors, withdrew from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and allegedly restarted a mothballed nuclear reactor from which weapons-grade plutonium can be extracted.

The other delegations participating in the working-level meeting Monday were headed by Li Gun, deputy director-general of the American Department of the DPRK Foreign Ministry, Saiki Akitaika, deputy director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Cho Tae-yong, director-general of the ROK Foreign Ministry's task force on the DPRK nuclear issue, V. Sukhinin, deputy director of the first Asian Department of Russian Foreign Ministry and Joseph R. DeTrani, US State Department special envoy for negotiations with DPRK.

Meanwhile, in Monday's joint press release at the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Informal Meeting in Qingdao of Shandong Province, the ministers from China and ten members countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) expressed their support for the ongoing efforts towards a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula.

"The ASEAN side commended China's active and important role in promoting the six-party talks about the nuclear issue on the Koran Peninsula," the press release said.

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