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Six-party nuclear talks resume amid cautious expectations
Latest Updated by 2006-12-19 09:13:27
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Related Special: Six-party talks

The six-party talks on Korean Peninsula nuclear issue resumed in Beijing on Monday after a 13-month hiatus, but with analysts predicting that negotiations will be tough.

"The current round of talks will emphasize and fix on specific measures to fully implement the joint statement in September 2005," China's top negotiator Wu Dawei told the opening session of the nuclear talks Monday morning.

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

Formally known as the second phase of the fifth round since 2003, Monday's talks involved China, the DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan and Russia.

It was the first talks since the DPRK conducted an underground nuclear test on Oct. 9, triggering protests from the international community and complicating the Korean nuclear issue.

Pining hopes on the talks, Wu urged "all the parties to exert political wisdom, come up with political determination and courage, and build a mutual-beneficial future while increasing mutual trust."

But Wu tried to downplay expectations of significant progress in the fresh talks, stressing "the issues to be discussed and settled during this phase of talks are complicated and profound."

The chief U.S. negotiator was also cautious about the prospect of progress in this round of talks.

Depicting the talks are coming to an "important juncture," Christoper Hill said "we are at the fork of road. I can't tell which road the DPRK is choosing."

The chief DPRK negotiator Kim Kye-gwan said upon his arrival that the DPRK was not optimistic about the outlook of the new round of talks. He emphasized the United States should change its hostile policy towards the DPRK, to a peaceful co-existence one.

It was confirmed by Chinese Foreign Ministry that Hill and Kim did not have one-on-one discussion on Monday.

The fact that both the United States and the DPRK were unwilling to change their entrenched position is the reason why the ongoing talks may move at a snail's pace, observers said.

"Scrapping nuclear weapons has a long way to go, thus no one expects a single meeting will work out quick solution," said Piao Jianyi, a researcher on Korean issues at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu is also cautious,saying, "It will take arduous efforts to narrow down the differences among the relevant parties."

Zhu Feng, a professor at the prestigious Beijing University, said the breakthrough lies in practical actions, rather than hostile policies, from the United States and the DPRK.

At a briefing following the one-day close-door meeting, Jiang hailed the first day of talks as "serious, candid and pragmatic."

"Yet the parties concerned are divided on the approaches and steps of how to implement the Sept. 19 joint statement," Jiang said.

Meanwhile, signs of pragmatic negotiations on specific areas have emerged, as Hill said that over the next few days the six parties are expected to discuss a China-proposed plan to set up working groups as a way to implement the joint statement.

A chief negotiators meeting will be held on Tuesday morning and a string of one-on-one discussions are scheduled for the afternoon, according to Jiang.

Editor: Yan

By: Xiong Zhengyan Source: China View website
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