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Parties to nuke talks: Time to make substantial progress
Updated: 2004-06-24 11:17

The first day of the third round of six-party talks on Korean nuclear issue saw detailed proposals put forward respectively by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States and the Republic of Kore a (ROK). Parties said the time has come that the talks make progress on substantial questions. The talks, involving China, the DPRK, the United States, the ROK, Russia and Japan, opened in Beijing Wednesday afternoon.

A senior official with the US delegation revealed after the talks in the evening that the US delegation made a seven-page proposal to end the disputes.

It's the first formal proposal that the United States has made towards solving the nuclear issue, and "We did think it is now a good time to offer the proposal," said the official, noting that it's time to completely solve the issue.

According to the seven-page US new proposal, the DPRK would be given a three-month preparatory period for dismantlement and removal of nuclear facilities, and the DPRK would be also asked to offer the US side a listing of nuclear activities at various time. The proposal also set ways to solve the security concerns of the DPRK, said the US official, adding that under the proposal, issues like lifting sanctions over the DPRK and dealing with its energy needs would be covered.

The official said the proposal is a "complex" one, because it is a large program that involves a lot of things with the DPRK and other parties.

It is said that the DPRK delegation has acquired a text of the US proposal for further discussion.

"We do hope the DPRK to seriously look at what we have in mind, and we don't want them to response us right now, " said the US official, noting that the US side is patient and determined to solve the problem.

Lee Soo-Hyuck, head of the Republic of Korea (ROK) delegation to the talks, said that the abandonment of nuclear programs should meet two conditions: firstly, the DPRK should, under international supervision, completely abolish allthe nuclear programs, including the uranium enrichment program. Secondly, he said, as the first step of abandoning the nuclear programs, the DPRK should freeze all its nuclear programs by fixed time, seal up relevant materials and freeze relevant facilities under international supervision.

Lee said if the DPRK froze the nuclear programs, the ROK would propose the following three measures in return:

First, the ROK will provide the DPRK with heavy fuel oil. Second, the United States would provide a guarantee in written form on ensuring the DPRK's security, including removing hostility against the DPRK and making a non-aggression promise. And thirdly, the United States would hold consultations with the DPRK onremoving it from the list of countries supporting terrorism and slowing down sanctions toward the DPRK.

Lee said the ROK hoped all parties could coordinate with each other and reach an understanding to create an environment for resolving the nuclear issue.

The DPRK's detailed scheme has not been revealed by press time.

Zhang Qiyue, member of the Chinese delegation, said the schemes of the DPRK, ROK and the United States are all very substantive, indicating that the sides are actively seeking solutions.

Addressing the opening ceremony Wednesday afternoon, Kim Kye-gwan, head of the DPRK delegation, said the DPRK hopes this round of talks will become a turning point in breaking the impasse of the nuclear dispute with the United States.

US delegation head James Kelly said that the common goal of the talks is to realize a nuclear weapon-free peninsula, which will help to ensure peace and safety in the peninsula and the region at large. That will also help to promote relations between the DPRK and the United States and the international community.

Also at the opening ceremony, Chinese delegation head Wang Yisaid the six-party talks have entered the stage of substantial discussion on specific topics, and this round of talks will discuss in depth two substantial topics.

According to him, one topic is how to realize a nuclear weapon-free Korean Peninsula, including ways to abandon nuclear programs and solve the concerns of all parties, and the other is how to make the first step towards the nuclear weapon-free goal, including freezing of nuclear facilities and relevant steps taken by other parties.

"In this round of talks, the parties have all exercised certain flexibility, and showed willingness to explore substantive questions," said Wang Yizhou, a researcher on international relations from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He expected reasonable progress to be achieved in this round of talks.

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