Sun, Jul 20, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Time to enlarge talks, US tells China

REUTERS , WASHINGTON

The US told a Chinese envoy on Friday it was time for other parties to join China and the US in talks with North Korea on how to end Pyongyang's suspected nuclear weapons programs.

The Chinese envoy, Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo (戴秉國), told reporters after hours of meetings with US leaders that the problems should be resolved through dialogue.

Neither side indicated whether they had made any progress toward arranging another round of multilateral talks to follow up on a three-way meeting in Beijing in April.

Dai, who visited Pyongyang this week, met Vice President Dick Cheney, White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell. He spent more than two and a half hours with Powell at the US Department of State.

"We both agreed that we need to work together to push more the process to solve these problems through dialogue," Dai told reporters after meeting Powell. He did not answer questions.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: "The United States made clear our strong belief that the time has come for other parties to join the multilateral talks in order to ensure that all key issues are addressed."

The US wants to expand the talks to include its East Asian allies, South Korea and Japan. North Korea has been insisting on bilateral talks with the US, but it did agree to the three-way Beijing meeting.

Arranging the next round of talks would be only the first step in what could be long and complicated negotiations on the substance, which includes aid to North Korea, North Korea's energy programs and the future of the Korean Peninsula.

Senior US officials said on Thursday the US saw signs that the multilateral talks with North Korea could resume for the first time since the Beijing meeting.

Dai was believed to have a letter from Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) to US President George W. Bush, a senior Bush administration official said on Thursday, citing the visit as a sign of increasing Chinese efforts to resolve the standoff.

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