US envoy: N. Korea talks slow but progressing

Updated: 2007-01-15 09:33

SEOUL - International talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programme are slow but progressing, top US envoy Christopher Hill said in a message posted on a Korean-English website.

"It requires a lot of patience," Hill said in a New Year message put up Thursday for Koreans on the "Cafe USA" website run by the US embassy in Seoul.

"It offers no refuge for those in need of instant gratification, but I do believe that we are making progress on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula."

But the US envoy, who a State Department official said would visit South Korea, China and Japan from Friday, did not elaborate.

The latest round of international talks, which involve the six nations of China, the United States, the two Koreas, Russia and Japan, ended in Beijing last month without a breakthrough.

The parties failed to set a date for a next round.

The State Department had earlier said the talks could resume this month. Separate US-North Korean financial talks were supposed to resume in January too.

The long-running six-party negotiations were suspended in late 2005 after North Korea walked out in protest at US financial sanctions imposed on a Macau bank accused of illicit dealings on behalf of Pyongyang.

The talks resumed in December last year -- following the North's October 19 nuclear weapons test -- and ended in deadlock as Pyongyang insisted the financial sanctions be lifted before it would discuss nuclear disarmament.

US and North Korean financial teams met in the Chinese capital on the sidelines of the six-way talks but failed to reach an agreement.

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