BEIJING - International talks on dismantling North
Korea's nuclear programs will resume Feb. 8, China said Tuesday, as Washington
and Pyongyang began a new round of meetings over North Korea's alleged illicit
The duration of the nuclear
discussions "will depend on the progress made during the talks," said Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.
The president of North Korea's Foreign Trade bank Oh Kwang
Chul arrives in Beijing, China Tuesday Jan. 30, 2007. [AP]
She said the key goal would be to take "substantive steps" toward
implementing a September 2005 pact where the North Korea pledged to abandon its
nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees - the only
agreement ever reached at the six-party talks, which include China, Japan,
Russia, the United States and the two Koreas.
"We hope the relevant parties can make joint efforts ... toward implementing
the joint statement in a comprehensive way," Jiang said at a regular news
A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday that the talks were
expected to end before the Chinese New Year - China's biggest
holiday - that starts Feb. 18. The official spoke on condition of
anonymity, citing Ministry policy.
Last week, envoys from South Korea, North Korea and the US held meetings with
their Chinese counterpart in Beijing, a move that helped establish when the next
round of nuclear talks would begin, Jiang said.
Russia's nuclear envoy said Tuesday he had cautious optimism for the talks.
"The very fact that there was agreement to hold a new round testifies to
signs of small movement in the positions of the participants," Deputy Foreign
Minister Alexander Lusyukov, who will head the Russian delegation attending the
talks, was quoted by RIA-Novosti as saying. "We're going to Beijing next week
with cautious optimism."
The South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it "expects the
participating countries to produce a substantial agreement for early steps" to
implement the 2005 agreement.
Meanwhile, a US Treasury official in Beijing for negotiations with North
Korea over its alleged illicit financial dealings said he was "hopeful" of
progress on the issue, which has stymied progress at the nuclear talks.
Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser was set to meet his North
Korean counterparts Tuesday to talk about US financial restrictions, which were
imposed due to Pyongyang's alleged smuggling and counterfeiting.
"We're prepared to go through these talks as long as it takes for us to get
through our agenda," Glaser told reporters. "I'm hopeful we'll make progress."
Pyongyang has tied the financial and disarmament issues together since
Washington took action against the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia in 2005,
accusing the bank of complicity in North Korea's alleged illegal financial
activity such as counterfeiting and money laundering.
The issue has caused other banks to steer clear of North Korean business for
fear of losing access to the US market, thereby hampering the North's access to
the international banking system.
The North says the restrictions are evidence of US hostility, and for a year
Pyongyang boycotted the six-nation negotiations on dismantling its nuclear
After North Korea tested a nuclear device in October, it agreed to return to
the disarmament talks - as long as there were separate negotiations on the
However, both the disarmament meetings and the financial discussions, held in
Beijing in December, ended inconclusively.