Writethru: Six-party talks begin in Beijing, chair outlines main task

The main task of the fifth-round six-party Korean Peninsula nuclear talks, which began in Beijing Wednesday morning, is "to outline details, ways and procedures for the implementation of the joint statement adopted in September," said Chinese chief negotiator.

The task should be fulfilled in line with the principle of "commitment to commitment and action to action," said Wu Dawei, also Chinese vice foreign minister, at the opening session of the talks.

In the joint statement, adopted at the fourth round of the six-party talks which ended in last September, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) agreed to abandon all its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in exchange for energy aid and security guarantees.

Wu suggested the fifth round be carried out in phases: the delegation heads of the six nations first table a general scenario and a working group or expert panel works out detailed rules and submit them to the delegation heads for consultations.

At a press briefing Wednesday evening, spokesman of the Chinese delegation Qin Gang said all delegation heads agreed at the plenary meeting that it would be an appropriate choice to set up working teams or expert panels to implement the joint statement, but more discussions were needed for a detailed and operable mechanism.

Qin said given the fact that the negotiators still differed in how to implement the joint statement, the Chinese delegation hoped they would adopt a pragmatic, flexible and discreet attitude to find a solution that is acceptable to all.

Meanwhile, Song Min-soon, the Republic of Korea (ROK) chief negotiator, said the on-going talks would talk about three topics.

The topics included DPRK's abandonment of nuclear weapons, economic and energy aid to the DPRK and the normalization of bilateral ties between certain countries, Song told reporters Wednesday evening.

Song said the current phase of talks was not aimed at reaching any agreement, but rather making preparations for substantial talks at the next phase of talks.

"The current phase of talks will not talk about the constitution of the expert teams," He said.

The ROK diplomat also urged all parties to focus on the joint statement and not to deviate from the framework set up by the document.

So far, the United States and the DPRK are still divided over when the DPRK should open up to disarmament inspectors and whether in return it would receive compensation including a new light-water nuclear reactor for energy.

The US side claimed that the DPRK should first abandon its nuclear program and create a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, then other issues could be discussed.

"When the DPRK is back to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons with the IAEA safeguards, at an appropriate time we'll have a discussion about the subject of the provision of light water reactor," US chief negotiator Christopher Hill told reporters Wednesday morning.

On the possible DPRK-US bilateral meetings during the current talks, Hill said many two-way discussions would be held and it was likely for them to meet with the DPRK counterparts.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, so far the six parties have held 16 rounds of bilateral consultations. But no information of US-DPRK contact was available.

Sasae Kenichiro, Japan's chief negotiator, called on all parties to voice their stances on how to implement the joint statement reached in September.

He said Japan would "actively voice its opinions in detail" for the implementation of the joint statement, Sasae told reporters when leaving the hotel Wednesday morning.

The six-party talks involves China, the DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan.

China has hosted four rounds of the six-party talks since August, 2003.

Source: Xinhua



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