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SEOUL: The Republic of Korea's unification minister said yesterday he expected a second round of multilateral talks on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) nuclear programme to take place in late November or early December.

At an earlier lunch with reporters, Jeong Se-hyun said he had told the DPRK at separate North-South talks this month that Pyongyang should seek dialogue soon with the United States because "doves" in the Bush administration had the upper hand.

China hosted an inconclusive first round of talks in Beijing in late August with Japan, Russia, the DPRK, ROK and the United States. Last weekend, the DPRK said it was prepared to consider a US offer of security assurances in return for ditching its atomic ambitions.

Asked when he expected the next round of six-way talks, Jeong said: "Around the end of next month or the beginning of December."

At a separate news conference, South Korea (ROK) Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan said Seoul would like to see talks by early December or mid-December but could not rule out November.

"We will be paying close attention to the outcome of the China-North Korea talks," he said, referring to this week's planned visit to Pyongyang of a top-level delegation led by China's top legislator Wu Bangguo.

"It has been a week of progress in resolving the DPRK nuclear crisis," Yoon said, noting US President George W. Bush had offered security guarantees last week and Pyongyang had agreed to consider the idea.

Agencies via Xinhua

(China Daily 10/29/2003 page1)


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