DPRK, US open direct talks in Geneva

Updated: 2011-10-24 19:12


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GENEVA - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States opened their second round of direct talks in Geneva on Monday morning, following similar discussions in New York in July 2011.

The new round of closed-door talks focusing on Pyongyang's nuclear program is conducted at the US mission in Geneva.

Amid spotlights and a gathering of journalists standing by in front of the US mission, a US team led by the country's envoy for DPRK policy Stephen Bosworth arrived at around 08:30 CET (0630 GMT), and the Pyongyang delegation, headed by First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, appeared one and a half hours later.

A press officer from the US mission confirmed that the meeting has already started at around 10:00 CET (0800 GMT) as planned. The talks will go on until 12:00 CET (1000 GMT) with a two-hour break at noon, before resuming at 14:00 CET (1200 GMT), he said.

Although details of the talks are still unknown, both sides seem to share relatively low expectation.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner last Wednesday stressed the exploratory nature of the talks, noting that they were designed for the United States to see whether the DPRK is ready to take any of the steps sought by the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) for the resumption of the six-party talks.

DPRK's official news agency KCNA on the same day cited remarks from an official of the Foreign Ministry, claiming that the United States attacked the DPRK system while agreeing to hold dialogue to build confidence and improve relations based on respect for sovereignty and equality, which left the DPRK skeptical about the US sincerity in pursuing talks.

This round of talks is scheduled to last for two days, with a second-day meeting to be held at the DPRK mission in Geneva and a possible press statement at the conclusion.

The six-party talks were launched in 2003, but got bogged down in December 2008 after holding six rounds and the DPRK quit the talks in 2009. The participating states are the DPRK, the ROK, China, the United States, Russia and Japan.

On Monday, China called on the DPRK and the United States to create conditions for the restart of six-party talks and a proper solution to relevant issues.

In reference to the talks in Geneva, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said "We support the two countries' dialogue and hope this helps enhance mutual trust and creates conditions to restart the nuclear talks and reach a proper solution."