New stage of six-party talks on North Korea starts in Beijing

(www.itar-tass.com) вЂ" Another stage of the six-party talks on settling the situation in the Korean Peninsula starts in the Chinese capital on Thursday. The plenary meeting of delegations in the afternoon will flag off the start of negotiations. Prior to the meeting, a series of bilateral consultations will be held between participants in the negotiating process.

The Russian delegation, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, met on Wednesday with colleagues from China and Japan as well as staged a working dinner with the US delegation, reports Trend.

In the morning, the North Korean delegation will arrive in Beijing, the last of all.

The hammering out of specific ways for denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula will be the focal topic of the present meeting in the six-party format.

It is supposed that China as chairman of the talks will propose setting up several working groups which will discuss directly the process of curtailing the North Korean nuclear programme, rendering of economic aid to Pyongyang, normalization of bilateral relations between the US and North Korea, North Korea and Japan as well as measures to maintain security in North Eastern Asia.

The Chinese side voiced such an initiative at the previous meeting of the Six last December. However, this proposal was not recorded in the final statement, mostly over the tough position of North Korean representatives who refused, in actual fact, to discuss the nuclear problem.

Instead, they put forth, as a priority matter, the question on defreezing North Korean accounts to the tune of 24-26 million US dollars at the Delta Asia Bank in Macao. At that time, Pyongyang made discussion of its refusal from the nuclear programme directly dependent on the situation with financial restrictions. Along with the six-party talks in Beijing, the US Treasury Department and the North Korean Foreign Trade Bank held separate consultations on this problem.

As for prospects of the present stage of talks, the Russian delegation, according to Losyukov, does not expect a breakthrough, but does not preclude positive shifts either. He also confirmed that much would depend on results of bilateral consultations of Washington and Pyongyang representatives, held in Berlin earlier. If of course understandings between the US and North Korea are confirmed and prove to be viable.

Head of the American delegation Christopher Hill said on Wednesday that the US would regard the six-party talks as really successful only after comprehensive implementation of the provisions of the joint statement, taken in September 2005. The document provides for dumping the North Korean nuclear programme, while extending economic aid to Pyongyang by other participants in the six-part process. The US representative admitted at the same time that it would not be possible to reach full implementation of the statement's items during the set period this time.

However, analysts believe that even if the participants succeed in making the first step in the direction of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula вЂ" to come to agreement on setting up working groups, this will be a diplomatic success in settling the situation in North Eastern Asia.

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