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Six-party Talks to Be Held in Beijing Today

Posted July. 18, 2007 04:00,   


The U.S. and North Korea made rapid progress on the bilateral talks held Tuesday.

North Korea`s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Kwan, who arrived in Beijing on Tuesday to participate in the six-party talks, had two rounds of talks with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill.

After having the first round of talks at the U.S. embassy, they not only attended a luncheon together at the China World Hotel, but also held another round of talks at the North Korean embassy, which is about 10 minutes away from the U.S. embassy located in Chaoyang, Beijing.

Although working-level officials of the two countries held two-day talks at both embassies over the Banco Delta Asia (BDA) issue in December 2006, this is the first time for the two countries’ senior officials to have talks at both embassies on the same day and hold a luncheon.

Hill also met with Kim 25 days ago during his two-day visit to Pyongyang on June 21 and 22.

Gathering the momentum created by the shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities, the two chief nuclear negotiators discussed the possibility of disabling nuclear facilities within this year and the removal of U.S. sanctions on North Korea, including the exclusion of the communist regime from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.

With regard to reporting the disarmament of nuclear facilities, the two thoroughly discussed the issue of highly enriched uranium, a major sticking point between the two countries.

However, they couldn’t make swift progress in their discussion.

Hill told reporters after finishing talks at the U.S. embassy that although they talked about practical matters, they had much discussion. He added that the two agreed to hold further bilateral negotiations.

When he was asked whether North Korea suggested any new demands with regard to the disablement of nuclear facilities, Hill replied that although they reviewed many issues, he did not want to reveal the details of the discussions.

Meanwhile, Kim said, “We talked about a number of general issues while having a meal together.”

Prior to this, U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said on Monday that North Korea and the U.S. would hold bilateral talks in Beijing on Tuesday to discuss the agendas of the next stage. However, he said that the talks were not likely going to be smooth.

McCormack also said that although the U.S. must move fast and is ready to so, it’s hard to say whether the Yongbyon facilities will be disabled and completely reported by the end of year.

South Korea also held bilateral talks with Russia and Japan to hammer out differences over the disablement of North Korean nuclear facilities.

The chief negotiators of the six parties are expected to convene at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in western Beijing on Wednesday to discuss the reporting process and disablement of North Korean nuclear facilities.