North Korean disarmament talks were extended as envoys struggled for agreement over a Chinese proposal that would let Pyongyang keep its civilian nuclear power program after it disarms.
After the heads of all six delegations met twice yesterday morning in Beijing to exchange opinions on the document, host China said the negotiations were almost finished.
"The talks are drawing to an end," the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao. It gave no explanation, but said delegates would meet again today.
It was not immediately clear if today would be the last day of this round of talks, and officials were not available for comment.
State-run China Central Television's CCTV 9 network reported that the US and North Korea remained at odds, but its reporter said, "For more information, we'll have to be more patient and wait and see."
"We'll see where we are at the end of the day," US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said earlier yesterday as he left his hotel. Hill said he would stay in Beijing another day.
Hill also said on Saturday, after discussions that dragged late into the night, that some countries among the six participating in the talks had indicated that they were dissatisfied with the compromise proposed by China
"We're all very supportive of the document, the issue is tactics of how we express elements in the document," Hill said yesterday morning. "Some delegations prefer to leave some things more ambiguous, my delegation would like to see things less ambiguous."
Envoys said they wanted to keep talking until they reach an agreement.
"Since we do not have a set date, we will continue negotiations to coordinate each party's interests with the draft that has been proposed," Song Min-soon, South Korea's deputy foreign minister, said as he left his hotel early yesterday.
The talks in Beijing involve China, Japan, Russia, the US and the two Koreas.
The North has been offered economic aid, security guarantees from Washington and free electricity from South Korea in exchange for dismantling its weapons program. Pyongyang has demanded it be given a nuclear reactor for generating electricity before disarming, promising to open such a facility to co-management and international inspections.
The new Chinese draft affirms Pyongyang's right to peaceful nuclear activities after it ends its weapons program. Washington has insisted the North cannot be trusted with any nuclear program, given its history of pursuing atomic bombs.
North Korea has not directly commented on the proposal, but on Friday, after it was put forward, a spokesman for Pyongyang denounced efforts to get it to give up its nuclear program without concessions by the US and called such demands "brigandish."
"Clearly, they have some problems with the draft but we have some problems as well," Hill said Saturday of North Korea's stance.
Hill said he was making frequent calls to Washington, and added yesterday that he had spoken more than once with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice was planning to contact foreign ministers of nations involved in the talks, Hill said.
He praised the Chinese for trying to bridge the differences between the six countries, but said Washington could not accept a vague statement of principles that would leave tough issues for later.
Tokyo's envoy said earlier that none of the participants, including Japan, was completely happy with China's proposal.
Negotiators were "working up to the last minute," said Kenichiro Sasae, director of the Asia and Oceania Bureau at Japan's Foreign Ministry.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo, who hosted a banquet for the chief delegates Saturday night, urged the envoys to end the "cold war state" on the Korean Peninsula and accept what he described as the "most realistic scenario for the relevant parties to reach an accord," Xinhua reported.
In the North's only public comments at the talks, spokesman Hyun Hak Bong on Friday reiterated Pyongyang's insistence that it needs nuclear weapons for its own defense -- against what it says is a threat from the US.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year