China proposes new draft at nuke talks
According to South Korea's delegate, Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-soon, talks Sunday focused on a key sticking point: what steps the other governments will take in exchange for an agreement by the North to dismantle its nuclear program.
The North has demanded concessions such as security guarantees and aid from Washington before it eliminates its weapons program, while the United States wants to see the arms destroyed first. The North has also insisted that it be allowed to run a peaceful nuclear power program, something Washington objects to out of proliferation concerns.
Hill dismissed suggestions that this round of talks ¡ª the fourth in a series that began in 2003 ¡ª might be completed Monday. The delegates have set no ending date, in contrast to earlier sessions, which each ended after three days.
"Everything's a problem until everything's solved, and nothing is solved until everything is solved," Hill said.
Song, the South Korean envoy, said "Narrowing differences in opinions cannot be done by the hour."
No details of either draft statement have been released, but a Japanese news report said it called for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs and other programs that could potentially produce such arms.
The draft also addresses normalization of U.S. and Japanese relations with the North, Kyodo News agency reported, citing an anonymous source at the talks.
The Japanese side is dissatisfied with the draft proposed by China because it fails to mention Japanese citizens the North has admitted to kidnapping, Kyodo said.
The Japanese delegate, Deputy Foreign Minister Sasae Kenichiro, wouldn't confirm that report or give any details, but said, "For Japan, we will do our best to reflect our stance in the draft."
Another issue of contention is the North's demand that it be allowed peaceful use of nuclear technology to remedy its electricity shortage, a request dating back to an earlier nuclear crisis that ended in a 1994 agreement with the United States. But Washington is reluctant to allow it any nuclear programs that could be diverted to weapons use.
In February, the North claimed it had nuclear weapons and has since taken steps that would allow it to harvest more plutonium for possible use in bombs.