Six-party talks to go on as long as necessary: US


Sat, Jul 30, 2005 - Page 5

The top US envoy pledged yesterday to keep at nuclear talks with North Korea as long as necessary, meeting again with the North's delegate as negotiations stretched into the longest round since the six-nation process began.

All six chief delegates met yesterday afternoon and agreed to continue the talks Saturday, said Cho Tae-yong, the No. 2 South Korean delegate. The top delegates will "seriously discuss how to push forward this round of talks," Cho said of the session.

Despite the apparent impasse at the talks after a record fourth day for the talks, he said yesterday's meetings "were not lower than my expectation."

"It's too early to pack or draw conclusions," said Cho, head of the Foreign Ministry's task force on the North Korea nuclear issue.

US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill held a one-on-one meeting yesterday morning with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan for about 90 minutes, a South Korean official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the continuing talks.

No results of the meeting -- their fourth direct talks this week -- were immediately known. China's state Xinhua News Agency reported that the two would meet again Saturday, citing unnamed sources.

No deadline has been set for the nuclear talks in the Chinese capital to wrap up, unlike other sessions that lasted about three days. The talks that began Tuesday are the fourth round in which China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the US have come together since 2003 to press North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions.

"We'll just keep at it just as long as it's useful to keep at it. I've got plenty of patience," Hill said yesterday before his meeting with the North Koreans.

He said the meeting was to focus on discussions of "denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula -- the buzzword of the negotiations, whose definition remains a point of contention.