S.Korea, US to hold talks on North

Updated: 2006-12-31 17:04

SEOUL - South Korea and the United States will hold talks in Washington this week, where the standoff over North Korea's nuclear ambitions will be discussed, according to the foreign ministry.

Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon, who took office early this month, is scheduled to meet with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday, the ministry said in a statement.

They will discuss "North Korea's nuclear problem, the South Korea-US alliance and other issues of mutual concern" at the talks, it said.

Six-nation negotiations aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programs resumed in Beijing from December 18-22 after a 13-month hiatus but failed to reach any agreement, even falling short of setting a date for the next round.

North Korea refused to engage in substantive discussions at the talks, citing no progress in the lifting of US sanctions imposed on Pyongyang over allegations of money laundering and counterfeiting.

The talks -- which group both Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia -- reconvened in December following Pyongyang's October 9 nuclear test.

Song will leave for Washington on Monday to attend the state funeral services for former US president Gerald Ford, who died on December 26 at the age of 93.

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