Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Chinese, US envoys discuss North Korea

DEFUSE THE PROBLEM Washington and Beijing's representatives discussed ways to resolve the issue of Pyongyang's ambition to gain nuclear weapons

AP , BEIJING

Honor guards march during a ceremony to mark the 28th anniversary of the US-South Korea Combined Forces Command at a US military base in Seoul on Tuesday. Elsewhere in Seoul, US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo to discuss North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

PHOTO: AFP

Chinese and US diplomats met yesterday amid efforts to restart nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea after Washington and Seoul introduced a possible complication by saying they would refuse to treat the North as a nuclear state.

"We're very interested in talking about what we can do to defuse the problem of North Korea's nuclear ambitions and to work together, China and the United States, toward achieving denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," said US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns at the start of a meeting with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo (戴秉國).

Burns and Robert Joseph, a US undersecretary of state for arms control, met earlier with another Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔箎), but no details were immediately released.

Burns and Joseph were in Seoul on Tuesday and earlier visited Tokyo to coordinate strategy for renewed talks. Burns was due to meet later with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星).

North Korea agreed last week to end a yearlong boycott of Chinese-organized disarmament talks that also include the US, South Korea, Japan and Russia. No date has been set.

The US and South Korean governments said on Tuesday they refused to treat the North as a nuclear power, a stance that could complicate the negotiations.

Seoul and Washington also agreed on the need for ``full and effective'' implementation of a UN sanctions resolution against the North for its Oct. 9 nuclear test.

The US-Chinese talks this week are the third round in a "strategic dialogue" that began last December.

Meanwhile, there were signs of disagreements between Seoul and Washington on how hard to press the North.

South Korea has been struggling to balance its obligations to punish the North under the UN sanctions resolution with concerns that aggravating its volatile neighbor could destabilize the region.

Deputy South Korean Foreign Minister Park In-kook said that both governments were trying to meet a Monday deadline to submit reports to the UN sanctions committee on how they are implementing the resolution against the North.

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