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China presents amendment to document
By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-17 07:31

China put forward an amendment to a joint document to negotiators from the six countries on Friday during a chief delegates meeting, hoping the other five parties would respond by Saturday (September 17).

Christopher Hill (R), U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and top U.S. negotiator for the six-party talks, speaks to journalists before continuation of talks in Beijing September 16, 2005. [Reuters]

Based on the fourth draft, which had been proposed in the first phase of the talks, the latest version upholds Pyongyang's right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

Russian chief delegate Alexander Alexeyev said the talks would create a chance for a joint document of principle on Saturday, as the draft has a compromise wording that would satisfy all parties.

He said the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) demanded a right to peaceful nuclear power and other states should respect this right, adding it is a common understanding that first all nuclear weapons and all existing nuclear programmes should be banned, Xinhua quoted him as saying.

The participating nations are set to discuss the new proposal with their capitals and reconvene today (September 17) to discuss the responses.

Alexeyev said the negotiators would decide on Saturday whether to reach an agreement or to announce a recess.

China, the United States, the DPRK, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan have been struggling to agree on a joint document outlining the basic principles.

Talks have stalled as Pyongyang has demanded it be given a nuclear reactor for generating electricity before disarming, a request Washington is unlikely to grant.

It is reported that on Friday the DPRK repeated its position not to give up its peaceful nuclear programme without getting concessions first.

"We will just do it our way. For us, we will not stop our way of peaceful nuclear activities for one minute," the DPRK's spokesman Hyun Hak-bong was quoted as saying.

It was unclear if those comments would make any difference to the US side.

The delegates from the United States, Japan and ROK had lunch yesterday to discuss ways to break the deadlock in the nuclear disarmament talks.

US chief delegate Christopher Hill said on Friday that the six-nation talks were at a standstill over Pyongyang's demand for a light water reactor in exchange for its nuclear weapon programmes.

But he said after the lunch that he had "good" discussions with his DPRK counterpart Kim Gye-gwan in the morning, which lasted for 20 minutes.

ROK chief delegate Song Min-soon said on Friday that the talks are at a critical period now.

(China Daily 09/17/2005 page1)

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