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2nd Round of Nuke Talks Likely Before Year-End


2nd Round of Nuke Talks Likely Before Year-End

Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Yoon Young-kwan said on Tuesday (Nov. 4) that Beijing is the most likely venue for the second round of six-party talks aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear standoff.

Referring to the timing of the meeting, Yoon said it has not been decided yet but efforts are under way to see it happen before year-end.

¡°I will see to it that a consensus is reached among nations concerned as soon as possible,¡± he said. The six-way talks include the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

Hopes are high for an early follow-up to the first six-party meeting held in Beijing in August, as the key players _ Pyongyang and Washington _ are showing a willingness to meet again.

Following Chinese No. 2 Wu Bagguo¡¯s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il last month, Pyongyang dropped its anti-U.S. rhetoric and expressed its willingness to participate in a second meeting.

Washington welcomed the North¡¯s response and said it will provide the Stalinist country with a written security guarantee, which it has demanded in return for the renunciation of its nuclear programs. On Monday, U.S. Ambassador in Seoul Thomas Hubbard said during a meeting with Korean politicians that his government is interested in a ¡°package deal¡± with Pyongyang, in which Washington will address not only the North¡¯s security concerns but also its economic woes, if the North eliminates its nuclear programs in a verifiable and irrevocable manner.

Regarding South Korea¡¯s decision to send troops to help U.S. postwar rebuilding in Iraq, Yoon said a final decision will be made after consultations with Washington. A delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck left for the United States on Tuesday for last-minute consultations aimed at finalizing the size of the dispatch to be sent to Iraq. The government is at present considering sending about 3,000 soldiers, a number reportedly lower than U.S. has requested.

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