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6 nations resume nuclear talks amid hopes for progress
Latest Updated by 2007-02-09 08:47:34
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 >>> Related Special: Six-party talks

The six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue resumed on Thursday afternoon in Beijing, focusing on the first steps towards denuclearization of the peninsula.

Chinese chief negotiator Wu Dawei made a speech at the opening ceremony at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in downtown Beijing, the venue for the talks since 2003.

"I hope the meeting will be a good beginning for implementing the joint statement, and a new starting point in the process of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," said Wu.

After the last session of the talks which ended in December with no breakthrough, the parties have been engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activity to restart the talks.

"Delegates from the DPRK and the United States have had productive contacts," said Wu. "All the various efforts have laid a more mature foundation for reconvening the talks."

A plenary session was held after the opening ceremony, in a "frank and practical" atmosphere, according to sources with the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The six delegation heads reiterated their willingness and determination to pursue the six-party talks, resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and in a peaceful manner, according to the sources.

The six top negotiators agreed to strive to reach consensus on the initial steps of the implementation of the Sept. 19 joint statement, the sources said.

Under the joint statement, signed during the fourth round of talks in 2005, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) agreed to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.

Spokesman for the Chinese delegation Qin Gang said "the plenary session was candid and pragmatic, all sides exchanged views on initial steps of the implementation of the Sept. 19 joint statement, and made some constructive suggestions."

Qin told a press briefing after the session that China hopes all sides can soon reach consensus on the initial steps and end this phase of meetings as early as possible.

It is hoped that this phase of meetings will end before the Chinese lunar New Year, which falls on Feb. 18, which is an important festival for China, the DPRK and the Republic of Korea (ROK).

But the meetings will continue as long as necessary, he said.

Today's meeting shows that the six parties are beginning to develop consensus, which will promote understanding and trust between all sides and promote the six-party talks process, Qin said.

He also called for other parties to show more confidence and patience, and cherish the resumption of the talks as an opportunity to lay a good foundation for future.

According to Qin, the establishment of working groups will be discussed during this phase of meetings.

A spokesman from the Japanese delegation said that all sides can contribute to measures for denuclearization through working group discussions.

It is necessary for all sides to map out an action plan or measures for the implementation of the Sept. 19 joint statement, and the statement should be implemented in a comprehensive and balanced way, he said at a Japanese press conference in the embassy.

However, he stressed that the DPRK must stop and seal up all nuclear devices, and accept supervision from the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA).

Chief ROK delegate Chun Yung Woo also expressed hope for an early consensus on the initial steps, saying this will be very important for the implementation of the joint statement and for building trust.

He said this round of meetings may draft a joint document earlier than previously, since the parties have had frequent bilateral contacts prior to the meeting, and reached a certain degree of consensus.

US chief negotiator Christopher Hill said the six parties are "coalescing around" some themes, and "we hope we can achieve some kind of joint statement here".

It is expected that the Chinese side will circulate a draft later Thursday or early Friday in this regard, Hill told reporters after dinner.

Hill said if the United States and the DPRK can agree on what they discussed today, "it will be a clear sign that we are moving along the path and a clear sign that we will move towards full implementation of the September statement".

But he is still a little cautious about the prospect of an agreement, saying "it is not easy to achieve these actions. because the first step of a journey is often a difficult step".

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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