Home>News Center>World

Intense diplomacy to bring North Korea back into talks
Updated: 2005-02-17 13:48

Envoys from the United States and South Korea are in Beijing as part of an intense diplomatic effort to bring North Korea back into mulilateral talks on its nuclear weapons programmes.

The newly-appointed US envoy to six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear problem, Christopher Hill, and South Korea's chief negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon, both arrived from Seoul.

The visits come one week after North Korea declared publicly that it now possessed nuclear weapons and would no longer take part in the talks.

The discussions in Beijing also come ahead of an expected weekend visit to Pyongyang by a special envoy from China.

"I'm here to meet my Chinese counterpart," Hill said before heading into meetings with China's pointman on North Korea Wu Dawei.

Hill, the US ambassador to South Korea, was appointed to his new role on Monday to replace the retiring James Kelly.

The US embassy said he would use the trip as a "familiarisation process, but obviously the North Korean nuclear talks will top his agenda." Hill is due to return Seoul later Thursday.

The United States, Japan and South Korea -- who along with Russia are the participants in the six-nation dialogue -- believe China's influence over North Korea is crucial to bringing back to the negotiating table.

"South Korea and the United States have agreed that China's role is crucial," South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon told reporters Wednesday on his return from talks with US counterpart Condoleezza Rice in Washington.

Wang Jiarui, the head of the Chinese Communist Party's International Liaison Department, will visit Pyongyang "soon" to discuss "international and regional issues where both sides are concerned," his office said.

It is widely believed he will leave on Saturday.

The flurry of diplomacy follows telephone discussions between most of the key players, including between the foreign ministers of Russia and North Korea.

Both sides Wednesday "spoke out in favor of a rapid resumption of the six-way negotiating process", the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The last round of six-party talks took place in Beijing in June last year.

North Korea shunned a fourth round set for last September, complaining of "hostile" US policies.

The United States and North Korea have been locked in a stand-off since October 2002 when Washington accused Pyongyang of operating a secret program based on highly-enriched uranium, violating a 1994 arms control agreement.

North Korea denied the allegations. However it responded by expelling UN nuclear inspectors, re-starting a mothballed nuclear reactor and extracting weapons-grade plutonium from spent fuel rods.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Expert: China overtakes US as world's top consumer



China plans nuclear talks with North Korea



CIA issues warning on China's military efforts



China's endangered panda expands habitat



Kyoto treaty takes effect to tackle climate



Report: Iran, Syria to form 'united front'


  Iraq Shi'ites mull PM choice; hostage pleads
  Israeli parliament approves key Gaza evacuation bill
  US officials warn of future terror attacks
  Report: Iran, Syria to form 'united front'
  Annan urges action to end 'hell on earth' in Darfur
  Brazilian troops trying to quell violence in Amazon
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
North Korea not yet a nuclear weapons state
US rejects one-on-one North Korea talks
US asks China to push for N. Korea talks
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?