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DPRK: Concrete plans can help nuclear talks
By Hu Xiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-24 00:32

The six countries discussing the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue Wednesday seemed to see emerging signs of movement after two key parties presented new proposals.

On the first day of the four-day talks, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States raised their proposals on the issue, said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue, without providing additional details.

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Yi, (3rd from L), leads the way to a meeting room for chief delegates for the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue at Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse June 23, 2004. [Reuters]
Kim Kye-gwan, DPRK deputy foreign minister and head of the DPRK delegation, said at Wednesday's opening ceremonies of the third round of the talks his delegation will put forward concrete plans on freezing nuclear programmes if the US party withdraws its demand for complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement and accepted the "freeze for compensation" programme.

James Kelly, head of the US delegation and US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the US side is determined to solve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

"We are prepared for serious discussion and we have a proposal to offer," Kelly said in his opening statement.

"A focus on the common objective, and practical and effective means to attain it, will lead in a very positive direction with new political, economic and diplomatic possibilities," he said.

The third round of talks which were regarded by analysts as "decisive" for the participants, especially for the DPRK and the United States to stop the standoff, were also described by the Chinese host to have "entered a stage of substantial discussion on specific topics."

The six parties meet at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse June 23, 2004 to discuss North Korea's nuclear issue.[Reuters]
Wang Yi, head of Chinese delegation, said this round of talks will discuss in depth two substantial topics.

One is how to realize a nuclear weapon-free Korean Peninsula, including ways to abandon nuclear programmes and solve the concerns of all parties.

The second is how to take the first step towards the nuclear weapon-free goal, including freezing of nuclear facilities.

Analysts say it is time to go over the principles and pursue substantial progress.

Qi Baoliang, an expert on the Korean Peninsula issue at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the opening statements showed signs of more-flexible attitudes.

Qi referred to the DPRK and the US. Kim said Wednesday that the "freeze for compensation" programme proposed by the DPRK delegation could break the deadlock between the United States and the DPRK.

The DPRK would give up all its nuclear weapon programmes once the United States abandoned its hostile policies toward the DPRK with actions, Kim said, adding that the DPRK did not want to permanently possess nuclear weapons nor would it attack the United States.

Opening statement shows more flexibility

We would like to hear something new from the US delegation," Kim said in his opening remarks.

Since the six-party negotiations began last year, the United States and the DPRK remain poles apart as Washington sticks to complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all of Pyongyang's nuclear programmes while Pyongyang demands economic aid for its freezing first and then dismantling.

Meanwhile, besides China's diplomatic flurry, other parties at the talks -- the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan -- also aim to pursue more contacts with Pyongyang.

And some progress seemed to appear.

DPRK leader Kim Jong Il told Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Pyongyang last month that the final goal should be denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and that if his country freezes its nuclear programmes, this will entail inspections.

What's more, analysts were not anticipating major breakthroughs since neither the United States nor DPRK appear in a hurry to resolve the standoff ahead of the US presidential election in November.

"But, the most important thing is that the talks have turned the standoff and confrontation between the DPRK and the United States into dialogue and they have shown their clear political willingness to solve the issue," said Qi.

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