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UPDATED: 13:24, February 08, 2007
Japan envoy sure of progress in fresh nuclear talks
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Chief Japanese negotiator Kenichiro Sasae on Thursday expressed his optimism that the fresh round of six-party talks on the Korean nuclear issue will make headway.

"The Japanese side hopes and is sure that the talks could make progress," Sasae told reporters in the Chinese capital.

The fresh phase of six-party talks will resume later Thursday, focusing on initial steps to implement a 2005 joint statement.

But top U.S. envoy Christopher Hill downplayed a quick settlement of the Korean nuclear issue.

"There is no success only when we implement the full Sept. 19 joint statement," Hill told reporter earlier Thursday.

Under the joint statement reached on Sept. 19, 2005, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) agreed to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.

Hill denied an alleged signing of memorandum at a meeting between the United States and the DPRK in Berlin last month.

"We had good discussions and talked about what we might do in the next six-party talks. We didn't sign anything," said Hill at a hotel in downtown Beijing.

Reports claimed the United States and the DPRK inked a memorandum during Berlin talks, agreeing that Pyongyang's first steps toward its denuclearization and U.S. energy support should begin simultaneously.

Source: Xinhua

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