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U.S., N. Korea, China meet in nuclear talks

The top American, North Korean and Chinese nuclear negotiators met for a second day Wednesday, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The top American, North Korean and Chinese nuclear negotiators met for a second day Wednesday, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said, amid a diplomatic push to resume six-nation talks on Pyongyang’s atomic weapons program.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill met with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawai at the Diaoyutai state guesthouse for a second round of talks, said Susan Stevenson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

She did not have details of the discussions or whether Hill met with Wu and Kim together or separately. The three met on Tuesday.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in Washington that the main goal of the current meetings was to “make sure that everybody, at least, has a good, solid understanding of what might happen” when six-nation talks aimed at persuading the North to abandon its nuclear weapons reconvene.

“What Chris did today (Tuesday) was to start to provide information on how we might be able to define what is an effective round of the six-party talks that produces concrete results,” he said.

According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, Hill on Tuesday “stressed that the North needs to report all of its nuclear programs before seeking economic incentives.”

On his part, Kim insisted that Washington lift its financial sanctions on Pyongyang and “take steps to help normalize relations between the two enemies,” Yonhap said.

North Korea agreed in September 2005 to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees and aid. But Washington imposed the financial sanctions against a Macau-based bank on suspicions it was laundering counterfeit money for the North Koreans. Angered by the move, Pyongyang withdrew from the talks two months later.

‘Depends on the United States’
Kim said before Tuesday’s meetings got started that the timing of the next round of six-party talks on his country’s nuclear program “depends on the United States.”

“There are too many outstanding issues” and both parties should narrow their differences, Kim told reporters.

Officials have yet to determine an exact date for the next round of negotiations. The China-hosted talks involve the United States, North Korea, Japan, South Korea and Russia, which has not sent an envoy to Beijing.

“We hope all sides can grasp this opportunity and take a flexible, pragmatic and constructive approach in order to realize the early resumption of six-party talks,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular briefing.

Kim’s trip to Beijing — a rare overseas visit — and the presence of other negotiators added to prospects of compromises to give new life to the talks.

An unannounced meeting between Hill and Kim last month in Beijing led to Pyongyang agreeing to return to the arms negotiations amid heightened tensions after its first nuclear test on Oct. 9.

Hill told reporters when he arrived Monday that the U.S. anticipated that the talks would “get going at some point very soon.”

Hill has also met with South Korea’s nuclear envoy, Chun Yung-woo, and Japan’s representative Kenichiro Sasae.