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Korea: Six Nations Fine-Tuning Joint Statement


Six Nations Fine-Tuning Joint Statement

BEIJING - Six nations taking part in the nuke talks on Thursday attempted to draft a joint statement that they hope will outline the date and venue for a second round of talks.

In Seoul, a senior government official said the next round of talks would likely be held in Beijing in October. ¡°It is important to keep the momentum for dialogue. Considering what has been discussed in Beijing, another meeting is most likely in the Chinese capital,¡± said the official.

President Roh Moo-hyun also expressed optimism about the results of the Beijing talks during his meeting with a United States congressional delegation at Cheong Wa Dae.

Officials from the U.S., North Korea, South Korea, Japan and Russia conducted heated debate at the heavily-guarded Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, discussing how to balance demands to scrap the North¡¯s nuclear weapons program and guarantee its security. However, they say it would be surprising for the parties to finish their talks without fixing the date for a next round of talks, considering consultations they need to make with their respective governments.

¡°They are discussing (whether to adopt) a joint statement, which could be announced on Aug. 29,¡± said Shin Bong-kil, a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman.

The six parties elaborated on their keynote speeches made the day before during a session from 10:30 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. Bilateral contacts between North Korea and the U.S., the two Koreas and North Korea and Japan, ensued in the afternoon.

China, the hosts of the talks, prepared a draft joint statement at the session that strongly urges the five other parties to negotiate.

Japan¡¯s Kyodo News Agency reported the statement will likely contain three main points depending on the outcome of the negotiations.

¡°The three points are that the participants frankly expressed their views, understood each other¡¯s assertions and agreed to hold another meeting,¡± the agency said, quoting diplomatic sources.

A well-placed South Korean government official said talks were heading in the right direction with the U.S. and North Korea concurring on the need to keep up the momentum of the talks.

The bilateral contacts between North Korean Vice Minister Kim Yong-il and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly ¡°created a consensus¡± to keep up the momentum, said the source.

¡°They heightened expectations for a joint statement from the Beijing talks as well as scheduling a follow-up meeting,¡± he said.

South Korean officials last week said scheduling the next round at this meeting would be considered a success since reaching a breakthrough on the nuclear issue from this round was unlikely.

In Seoul, Foreign Affairs-Trade Minister Yoon Young-kwan said Pyongyang made no new proposals in its keynote speech the day before. ¡°It largely repeated the position it held before,¡± he said.

South Korean negotiators said they met with their Northern counterparts for half an hour Wednesday evening, explaining the U.S. position at the North Koreans¡¯ request.

A three-way contact between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan took place early Thursday morning at the U.S. Embassy here.

The North Korean nuclear crisis began last October with the North¡¯s admission of a uranium-based nuclear program. The North then withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and kicked out inspectors from its Yeongbyeon nuclear complex.

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