New round of North Korea nuclear talks opens

December 8th, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Dec 8 (DPA) Envoys from North Korea and five other nations began a new round of talks Monday here to persuade North Korea to quit its nuclear weapons programme.Ahead of a meeting of the chief negotiators, delegates from the United States, China, Japan, Russia, North and South Korea started a series of bilateral talks.

The talks aim at settling on a “protocol” for steps taken by North Korea to mothball its weapons drive, including a timeframe for disabling its nuclear facilities and delivery of the still outstanding energy and economic aid promised to the impoverished Stalinist state in exchange dismantling its weapons programme.

“We need to get a verification protocol,” US chief negotiator Christopher Hill was quoted as saying.

“We need to have a clear roadmap of what we need to do to complete the verification,” Hill told reporters.

“We need to figure out how to achieve this objective. It is an unanimous view that we need to proceed with this,” Hill said after a meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts late Sunday.

North Korea, which tested a nuclear device in 2006, recently said it would not allow inspectors to take samples at its nuclear site at Yongbyon to verify its activities.

Hill brushed aside North Korea’s plans to sideline the Japanese delegation, as Tokyo refused to send aid. “I don’t think it’s for North Korea to be including or excluding anyone in the six-party talks. They need to deal with us all.”

Ahead of the first round of talks in more than five months, South Korean negotiator Kim Sook said he was “not optimistic at all” about possible progress.

It remained unclear how long the talks were expected to last.

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