Nuke talks reopen amid upbeat signs

By Le Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-08 07:17

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and chief negotiator Christopher Hill speaks to journalists upon arriving for the six-party talks in Beijing February 7, 2007. [Reuters]

The Six-Party Talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula will resume this afternoon amid hopes for concrete progress toward persuading Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.

Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, the top Chinese negotiator to the talks, held a series of discussions with his counterparts from the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan and Russia after they arrived in Beijing yesterday, according to diplomatic sources.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s chief delegate Kim Kye-gwan is expected to arrive today.

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The focus is likely to be on persuading the DPRK to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear plant, a source of plutonium for its nuclear weapons program.

"This is a very important session," US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters at Beijing International Airport after flying in.

"But I want to emphasize the real success is when we complete the September 2005 joint statement. Not just when we start the 2005 agreement, but when we finish it, " said Hill, who is the top US nuclear negotiator.

"We've worked very hard for this, done consultations all over the place, so let's see if we can make some progress."

In the joint statement, Pyongyang agreed to give up its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.

Hill visited the ROK and Japan to coordinate their positions before coming to China.

Chun Yung-woo, the ROK's chief negotiator, yesterday urged Pyongyang to take concrete steps.

He described the upcoming session as "another moment of truth" which "should create some sort of turning point" that shows Pyongyang's desire to denuclearize.

"I hope the upcoming talks will be a chance for the DPRK to realize its commitment to denuclearization," Chun said upon his arrival.

The fresh session of the six-nation negotiations will be the third phase of the fifth round of the Six-Party Talks since they were launched in 2003. The last phase recessed without a breakthrough in December last year after five days of negotiations.

Pyongyang had cited Washington's financial restrictions as a reason for not implementing the 2005 joint statement, but the latter insists the sanctions are for the former's alleged illicit financial activities and have nothing to do with the nuclear disarmament talks.

Jin Xide, a researcher of international relations studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said he is optimistic about the new round of talks.

Various signs that related parties have sent out demonstrate that a "positive outcome" will be achieved, Jin said.

Agencies contributed to the story

(China Daily 02/08/2007 page1)

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