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Six-nation talks on NK nukes open in Beijing

Six-nation talks on NK nukes open in Beijing

The much-awaited third round of six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear standoff begins Beijing, China on Wednesday (June 23) afternoon, with all delegates showing eagerness to reach a conclusion.

The talks, set to lift its curtains at 3 p.m. local time, will begin with the host China's chief delegate Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi's opening key speech, followed by two-minute presentations by each attending party.

The talks will be a continuation of cooperative efforts by South and North Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, to bring about a peaceful resolution to Pyongyang's nuclear programs.

Day one of the meeting will convene with presentations from representatives of each country, with China first in order, followed by North Korea, Japan, South Korea, Russia and finally, the United States.

Arriving in the Chinese capital on Tuesday morning, Seoul's chief delegate to the talks Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck once again reiterated that his party is prepared to put in all efforts to achieve substantial progress on the issue.

"It is difficult to bring out an epoch-making plan each time around," Lee told reporters upon arrival at Beijing's central airport. "But we will present our three-stage settlement proposal to the delegates and seek their understanding and support."

Seoul's proposal calls for initial verbal promises to address each other's concerns, followed by phased-in "reciprocal" action and then normalization of relations after the nuclear issue is fully settled.

With more than 24 hours between the closing of the working group talks and the main six-party talks, South Korea has been pushing for a meeting with North Korea, an official said. He also said the United States and North Korea were expected to hold a one-on-one meeting.

Lee and his delegation reportedly held several diplomatic contacts on Tuesday and on Wednesday, as the United States, North Korea and four other countries warm up to the actual talks.

Chief nuclear negotiators from Seoul, Tokyo and Washington are expected to hold an informal trilateral meeting in the morning prior to the actual opening which is scheduled later than previous sessions.

Brief bilateral meetings have reportedly taken place between South Korea and the United States, as well as China. But it is not known whether the two Koreas were able to sit down for talks prior to the opening ceremony.

North Korea's delegation, led by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan, arrived Monday for the main nuclear talks, according to a diplomatic source.

As a prelude to the formal six nation meeting, working-level officials from the six countries on Tuesday ended their two days of talks aimed at preparing for the main session.

During the meeting, all parties re-evaluated China's role, held serious discussions on the options of a resolution, and unanimously agreed the need for active discussions and debates during the main talks.

All six parties also jointly voiced that dismantlement is the ultimate goal in these talks.

The nuclear dispute began in October 2002 after U.S. officials said North Korea admitted to having a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of international agreements. The previous two rounds of six-party talks, first in August and then in February, failed to produce a clear breakthrough.

At issue is the U.S. demand that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, known as the "CVID formula."

North Korea says the U.S. demand is unacceptable, because it negates even the peaceful use of nuclear power and targets an arms program based on highly enriched uranium (HEU) that Pyongyang claims it doesn't have.

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