Foreign ministers may discuss North Korea in mid-October
( RIA Novosti ) - Foreign ministers from six nations could discuss the ongoing North Korean nuclear problem in the second half of October, a Russian deputy foreign minister said Monday.
In an interview with the Vremya Novostei popular daily, Alexander Losyukov said: "Attempts were made to gather the ministers together in mid-September. But we believe that would have been too early... A ministerial meeting might be convened in October, in the second half of the month at the earliest."
The sixth round of six-party talks on North Korea's denuclearization will resume in Beijing on Friday. The talks, involving China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas, were postponed earlier last week at the request of Pyongyang for undisclosed reasons.
Last Friday, Losyukov said the upcoming talks would focus on concrete methods of dismantling North Korea's nuclear facilities to make the process irreversible.
"We will listen to expert conclusions at the plenary meetings and we will try to understand how far we can go in this [denuclearization] process," he said.
The diplomat told the paper the parties had the chance to make progress now that the positions of both Washington and Pyongyang had changed, and the two were obviously seeking to restore bilateral relations.
However, despite the fact that North Korea is ready to admit International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to its nuclear facilities, which are reportedly almost entirely closed down, Pyongyang "is... making small steps ahead and carefully calculating whether or not it will reap economic and political dividends," Losyukov said.
Under the agreement reached in Beijing in February, North Korea pledged to permanently disable its nuclear facilities and provide a full account of its nuclear weapon activities.
In exchange, the North will receive 950,000 metric tons of fuel oil for its thermal power-generating plants, in addition to the 50,000 already delivered for the reactor's closure.
The February agreement was considered a breakthrough after more than three years of negotiations following Pyongyang's withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 and the country's nuclear bomb test last October.