N.Korea talks end without deadline
Updated: 2007-07-20 13:32
Talks on how to end North Korea's nuclear
weapons programme wound up on Friday without setting any deadline, with the
focus now turning to technical details and working groups before new
negotiations in September.
Russia's Ambassador of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Rakhmanin (L), South Korean special
representative Chun Yung-woo (2nd L), North Korea's vice minister of
Foreign Affairs Kim Gye Gwan (3rd L), China's vice minister of Foreign
Affairs Wu Dawei (3rd R), chief U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill (2nd R)
and apanese chief negotiator Kenichiro Sasa shake hands during the closing
speech at the end of the six-party talks in Beijing July 20, 2007.
Delegates from the two Koreas, United States,
Japan, Russia and China met for three days in Beijing and the chief U.S. envoy
said he still hoped a second disarmament phase could be completed this year.
"I'm still of the view that with a little luck we can wrap this all up
by the end of the year, but obviously it's going to be difficult," Assistant
Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters before leaving Beijing.
He said the important issue was not an exact month, but "that we
continue to make perceptible progress".
Chinese envoy Wu Dawei said the
working groups would meet before the end of August to discuss how to press
forward a disarmament deal, phase one of which was North Korea's shutting down
of its Yongbyon nuclear facility, north of Pyongyang.
Phase two is North
Korea's full declaration of its nuclear secrets and and the disabling of
In September, fresh six-way talks would "work out the road map"
for implementing disarmament steps, Wu said.
The six countries' foreign
ministers would then meet "as soon as possible" to affirm the deal and explore
ways of improving regional security, he said.
North Korea remained
committed to winding down its nuclear activities, Wu said.
But chief Japanese delegate Kenichiro Sasae said
there had been no agreement on what should be included in North Korea's
declaration or on ways to deal with disabling nuclear facilities.
was a participating nation which held a strong view that it could not set a time
frame now for denuclearisation," Sasae told reporters, without naming the
"It is true that there were conflicts over basic points."
Now contention will shift to the expert groups dealing with energy aid,
disarmament technicalities and Pyongyang's stormy relations with the United
States and Japan.
"Ultimately we decided not to put in deadlines yet,"
Hill said earlier. "We'll put in deadlines when we have the working groups and
we know precisely what we are talking about."
The International Atomic
Energy Agency says North Korea has shut five main nuclear facilities at
Yongbyon, completing the first stage of a deal reached in February.
facilities include a reactor and an atomic fuel reprocessing plant that can
extract the plutonium Pyongyang used for its first nuclear test blast last
Pyongyang quit the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty early in
2003 after throwing out U.N. nuclear inspectors.
China convened a first
round of six-party talks the following August, but progress eluded delegates
until February this year when North Korea agreed to close Yongbyon in return for
an initial 50,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil. The first shipment reached the North
on July 14.
Under phase two, the North is to receive an additional
950,000 tonnes of fuel oil in return for disabling its atomic facilities and
coming clean on its nuclear secrets.
Accumulated distrust remained an
obstacle, said Jon Wolfsthal, an expert on the dispute at the Centre for
Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
"Neither the United
States nor North Korea is really confident yet that the other country has
fundamentally changed its stance," he said. "Neither wants to move too far ahead
while still unsure of the other's motives."
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