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Officials meet for new 6-party talks
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-10 23:34

The first working group meeting of the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue will begin tomorrow as scheduled, sources from the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed Monday.

An official of the office of Korean Peninsula nuclear issue of the ministry who did not want to be identified said the aim of the closed-door discussions is to prepare for the next round of six-party talks to be held before the end of June.

Ning Fukui, Chinese ambassador on Korean Peninsula affairs, will head Chinese team at the meeting.

The open-ended meeting will bring together the diplomats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States, China, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan.

Members of the group were expected to hold some one-on-one talks today in Beijing before the meeting.

The working group meeting comes on the heels of a China-tour late last month by Kim Jong-il, chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and visit by US Vice-President Dick Cheney shortly before that.

The DPRK's leading newspaper Rodong Sinmun said Monday that Pyongyang is ready for reform-oriented and trustworthy measures if the US turns to "a reasonable and realistic stance" and abandons its "hostile stance" against DPRK.

"Whether an outcome will be achieved at the six-party talks to resolve the nuclear problem depends solely on the US attitude," it said.

"There are no changes in our basic position to find a peaceful solution to the problem through talks and our republic continues to demonstrate patience and flexibility while continuing to participate positively in the six-party talks," the newspaper said.

Currently, there are no signs that Washington will change its stance on a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of the DPRK's nuclear programmes as a first step towards solving the problem.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said late last month during the working group discussions, participants will carry out in-depth talks to seek ways of defusing tensions over the nuclear issue.

The working-level talks are expected to focus on details rather than general principles.

Ning, who visited ROK, Japan and the United States late last month, called for a "flexible" approach toward the nuclear stand-off.

"We hope the participants will be more flexible and take a realistic approach so that progress can be made," said Ning during his ROK tour.

The nuclear standoff erupted in October 2002 after US officials claimed Pyongyang had admitted to reviving a programme to produce atomic weapons.

A first round of six-party talks was held in Beijing last August and a second in February.

Economic aid is a key demand made by Pyongyang in order to freeze and dismantle its nuclear programmes.

Washington has said a freeze is not enough and has called for the DPRK to first to dismantle "all" its nuclear programmes.

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