Two Koreas to hold more nuclear talks

Last Updated: Friday, September 16, 2011 - 23:31

Seoul: North and South Korean negotiators will meet next week for a second round of talks aimed at restarting stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament negotiations, Seoul`s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The South`s chief nuclear negotiator Wi Sung-Lac and his counterpart Ri Yong-Ho of North Korea will hold talks in Beijing, the ministry said.

"Both sides agreed to hold the second round of talks between chief nuclear negotiators from South and North Korea in Beijing in the middle of next week," a Seoul diplomat told Yonhap news agency separately.
"We are arranging a specific date for the talks, possibly on Tuesday or Wednesday."

The two envoys held talks in July on the Indonesian island of Bali -- the first-ever North-South meeting on nuclear issues outside the six-party format.

It was followed by a US-North Korean meeting in New York aimed at restarting the talks grouping China, Japan, the United States, the two Koreas and Russia.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said that Ri would be in Beijing on Monday for an event to commemorate the anniversary of a joint statement signed by the six parties.

She said the North`s envoy would also meet his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei.

"On the sixth anniversary of the joint statement, it is of great importance to review the spirit of the statement and explore how to push forward the six party talks," she said.

The North abandoned the six-party talks in April 2009 and conducted its second nuclear test a month later. But diplomatic efforts to restart the dialogue have picked up this summer.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il reportedly told President Dmitry Medvedev during a visit to Russia last month that Pyongyang was ready to resume the dialogue.

Kim also expressed readiness to impose a moratorium without preconditions on nuclear enrichment work and testing once the forum restarted, according to the Kremlin.

But both the United States and South Korea dismissed the proposal as nothing new, with Seoul calling for action before the discussions resume.

In addition to its plutonium programme, which is believed to have produced enough material for six to eight bombs, the North last November disclosed a uranium enrichment plant.

It says this is for peaceful energy use but experts say it could easily be reconfigured to make material for atomic weapons.

South Korea, the United States and Japan agree the North must forgo the uranium enrichment programme (UEP) before the six-party talks resume, a senior Seoul government official told reporters this month.

"Shutting down all illegal nuclear activities including the UEP and promising not to do what`s illegal in the future are the minimum requirements for opening the six-party talks," he said on condition of anonymity.

Bureau Report



First Published: Friday, September 16, 2011 - 23:31

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