Envoys at talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program failed to meet a deadline yesterday to respond to a new Chinese proposal affirming Pyongyang's right to peaceful nuclear activities after it disarms.
An unspecified number of countries at the talks have yet to get responses from their home governments about the draft proposed on Friday, a South Korean official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak on the record. Some countries also felt they needed to further review their final positions, the official said.
The talks -- which include China, Japan, Russia, the US and the two Koreas -- were to reconvene this morning, the Chinese hosts said. All chief envoys were also set to attend a dinner last night hosted by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo (
Earlier yesterday, the main US envoy declined to comment on whether Washington approved of the new proposal. The North on Friday had steadfastly refused to give up its nuclear program without any concessions from the US -- a stance that puts it at odds with Washington.
"The Chinese have given us a text to react to, some ideas, so we're looking at those and having some internal discussions and talking with people in Washington," US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said yesterday morning.
"We'll see where we go," he said. "We've had a fairly fast pace for the last 24 hours and I think that will continue for the next 24 hours."
Seeking to break the deadlock, host China proposed that North Korea retain the right to a civilian nuclear program after abandoning its weapons, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev said on Friday.
The proposal contains "compromise wording which could satisfy both sides," Alexeyev said, referring to the US and North Korea.
However, Japan's envoy to the talks said none of the participants were completely happy with the new draft.
"All the participants concerned have some points that they are unsatisfied with," Kenichiro Sasae, director of the Asia and Oceania Bureau at Japan's Foreign Ministry, said yesterday.
"We are not necessarily satisfied," Sasae said