Tue, Nov 18, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Officials see second round of talks in mid-December

REUTERS AND AP , SEOUL AND TOKYO

The second round of six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons development is expected to take place on Dec. 17 and Dec. 18 in Beijing, a senior South Korean official said yesterday.

"It has not been officially announced, but the general mood is moving in that direction," National Security Adviser Ra Jong-yil said when asked by reporters if talks would be held on those days. Citing government sources, South Korean media have reported that the meeting was planned for those dates.

In Tokyo, US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly said yesterday that Washington hoped a fresh round of multilateral talks on North Korea's nuclear arms would be held in mid-December, but added he was not certain that this would be the case.

Kelly made the remarks after talks with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, one of several Japanese officials he is meeting during a three-day visit to Tokyo.

Ra said that the nuclear talks involving the two Koreas, Japan, the US, China, and Russia would be held in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

Diplomatic efforts to resume six-nation talks gained speed after North Korea agreed last month "in principle" to return to the negotiating table.

Pyongyang also said it would consider US President George W. Bush's offer of a written security guarantee from the US and North Korea's neighbors.

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