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Annan Welcomes Beijing Talks on Nth Korea Nukes

Annan welcomes Beijing talks to defuse nuclear tensions on Korean peninsula

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed six-party talks being held in Beijing, in an effort to defuse nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula as "an encouraging development" that he hoped would strengthen peace and stability.

"I am hopeful that this process, however challenging and complicated it may be, will lead to solutions to your mutual and bilateral concerns, reducing tensions, and strengthening peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the region," Mr. Annan said in a message to the six participants - China, Japan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Republic of Korea (ROK), Russian Federation and the United States.

"This is an encouraging development that offers testimony to the will of your respective governments to find a negotiated solution to the crucial problems of the region," he said. "There is much confidence in your diplomatic skills and I wish you success in your deliberations. I also want to assure you of my active support for your work."

In a message last month marking the 50th anniversary of the Korean War truce agreement, Mr. Annan said the "current controversy over the nuclear weapons programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a sobering reminder of the risks that this unfinished business poses to the region, to the world at large, and above all to the people of both Koreas."

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