Talks resume on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament

July 10th, 2008 - 8:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 10 (DPA) Chief envoys from six nations negotiating the end of North Korea’s nuclear programme held talks here Thursday after a nine-month break, host China said. Chinese envoy Wu Dawei said the meeting could “serve as a turning point to further push the six-party talks to a new stage”.

It would focus on “steps and measures” to achieve the “comprehensive and balanced” implementation of an agreement between the six nations, foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

The chief negotiators from North Korea, the US, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia could continue their talks for up to three days, depending on progress, Qin said earlier.

US negotiator Christopher Hill said the US hoped to set a timetable for concluding the second phase of the talks by the autumn.

Under the second phase, North Korea must disable and dismantle its main nuclear facilities in return for energy aid from the other five parties, who require verification of Pyongyang’s compliance.

“Obviously we are going to focus very much on the verification regime to wrap up this phase,” South Korea’s Hill Yonhap news agency quoted Hill as saying.

The agency quoted South Korean envoy Kim Sook as saying the appraisal of a long-awaited nuclear declaration delivered by Pyongyang in late June would also be on the agenda this week.

The day after handing over the declaration to China, North Korea destroyed a cooling tower at its Yongbyon plant in a move to show it would dismantle its controversial programme.

In exchange for the declaration, Washington plans to take the communist country off its list of countries accused of supporting terrorism, and to lift economic sanctions against Pyongyang.

Last week, North Korea’s foreign ministry said it would only take further steps towards disarmament if the agreed-on energy and economic aid to the country can be accelerated.

Yonhap quoted Kim Sook as saying that Japan’s participation in energy aid to North Korea was essential to concluding the second phase of the denuclearisation process.

“I will urge Japan to participate in the economic and energy aid in which North Korea is interested,” Kim said.

“Concrete plans for it can be fleshed out at a related working group,” he was quoted as saying.

Qin said two working groups on denuclearisation and compensatory energy aid to North Korea would also meet in Beijing this week.

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