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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

China sets 6-way talks on N Korea nuke issue June 23-26

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Tokyo, June 14, Kyodo/OANA/IRNA -- China has decided to hold the third
round of six-nation talks on North Korea`s nuclear ambitions June 
23-26 in Beijing, conference sources said Monday. 
It has already informed the other participants -- Japan, North and
South Korea, Russia and the United States -- of the schedule and is 
set to announce it as early as Tuesday, the sources said. 
The schedule also includes holding working-group discussions June 
21 and 22 to lay the groundwork for the plenary session, they said. 
International attention is focused on whether North Korea will 
present a time frame for freezing its nuclear weapons programs during 
the talks and detail its offer to allow inspections of the freeze, the
sources said. 
The six nations plan to resume their talks in line with an 
agreement they reached on wrapping up the last round of full talks in 
February that they would hold the next gathering by the end of June. 
Last week, the Group of Eight major countries supported the 
six-nation dialogue framework in a chairman`s summary released after 
the G-8 summit at Sea Island, Georgia. 
The United States has repeatedly urged North Korea to dismantle 
its nuclear programs in `a complete, verifiable and irreversible` 
But North Korea has rejected the demand, saying nuclear programs 
for peaceful use should be tolerated. 
A senior official in the Japanese Foreign Ministry has said major 
progress toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is 
unlikely to come out of the upcoming session due to the big 
differences in the positions of the United States and North Korea. 
That pessimistic view had prompted China to consider delaying the 
round until July to seek a breakthrough through more negotiations 
including behind-the-scenes talks, the conference sources said. 
The host country appeared to think that making progress should 
take priority over holding a formal session as agreed, but finally 
decided to host the talks next week at the request of many of the 
other five, the sources said. 
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has said his country is willing to
continue participating in the multilateral framework, freeze programs 
for nuclear weapons to achieve the goal of a nuclear-free Korean 
Peninsula, and allow inspections of the freeze. 
Kim made the commitments during his visit to China in mid-April 
and at his summit with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on 
May 22 in Pyongyang. 
North Korea has also denied US allegations that it has highly 
enriched uranium for nuclear arms. 
Japan, for its part, is expected to seek bilateral talks with 
North Korea on the sidelines of the talks to increase pressure on 
Pyongyang to settle the dispute over its abductions of Japanese, a 
main obstacle to normalizing bilateral ties. 
The six nations failed to bridge the gap in positions during the 
first working-group meeting held in Beijing in May, only reaffirming 
their agreement to hold full talks by the end of June. 

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