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Six-Party Talks resume; differences remain
By Jiao Xiaoyang (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-09 05:53

The Six-Party Talks on the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula resume in Beijing today after a two-month break, with officials and experts expressing a cautious outlook over the outcome.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the new round of talks is more about exchanging views and increasing understanding among the parties than reaching an instant result.

"The talks provide a platform where parties can fully exchange their views and discuss the implementation of the promises (reached in the last round)," Liu said at a news briefing yesterday.

The talks are tentatively scheduled to last three days, according to Liu.

The last round of talks in September ended with an agreement outlining the principles and goals for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) promised to scrap all its nuclear weapons-related programmes, rejoin the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and allow outside nuclear inspections in exchange for security guarantees and economic aid.

The United States, a key player in the talks, promised not to militarily attack the DPRK and agreed to join the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan, China and Russia in providing energy supplies to the DPRK.

"The key task of this, and the following, rounds of talks is to implement the goals under a 'word-for-word' and 'action-for-action' principle agreed in the joint statement of the last round," said Li Jun, a researcher on the Korean Peninsula at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).

"But the sequence of actions to be taken by each party could be a touchy issue, as it is impossible to have absolute synchronization," said Li.

Differences remain over some key issues, including when to provide the DPRK with civilian nuclear reactors as part of its right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Pyongyang wants to get nuclear reactors in advance, while Washington insists that the issue can be discussed only after the country first moves to verifiably abandon its nuclear weapon ambitions.

"The sincerity of each party would be a pre-condition to a possible breakthrough," said Li.

Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, who heads the Chinese delegation to the talks, has started consultations with heads of delegations who arrived in Beijing yesterday, according to Liu.

He said there would be many bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Six-Party Talks as a more flexible way of finding common ground.

"No matter how difficult the path ahead is, each party should display political will, flexibility, and understanding of other parties' concerns," said Liu.

(China Daily 11/09/2005 page2)

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