Tue, Nov 28, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Envoys arrive in Beijing for North Korea nuclear talks

AFP , BEIJING

Diplomatic efforts to kickstart the stalled six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program got underway in Beijing yesterday as envoys converged on the Chinese capital.

The US' chief negotiator to the six-nation forum, Christopher Hill, said after arriving yesterday afternoon that he remained hopeful that the fully-fledged talks would resume soon, ending a year-long hiatus.

Hill, who held meetings in Beijing last week with China's envoy to the talks, Wu Dawei (武大偉), joined top envoys from Japan and South Korea already in Beijing.

South Korean and Japanese press reports said the North Korean representative to the talks, Kim Kye-gwan, may fly in, although officials from the other six-party nations could not confirm this.

It looked unlikely that the envoys would all meet together here, with the focus instead on bilateral meetings aimed at setting a date for restarting the talks.

"We'll be talking to our Chinese hosts again about a date," Hill said at the Beijing airport, before repeating the US position that it was vital to ensure beforehand that substantial progress would be made when the talks resumed.

"Again the issue for us is to make sure we are extremely well planned for six-party talks, which we expect to get going again very soon," he said.

Hill did not give any indication whether he planned to meet Kim in Beijing this week.

"We've always said we are prepared to meet with DPRK [North Korean] officials in the context of six-party talks but let me first talk to the Chinese and see what they have in mind," he said.

South Korean envoy Chun Yung-woo, who arrived yesterday morning, said he intended to meet only with Wu, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

Japan's top negotiator, Kenichiro Sasae, flew to Beijing on Sunday and met with Wu yesterday, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.

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