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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Six-nation talks on N. Korea unlikely before Dec. - deputy FM

RIA Novosti

09/11/2006 11:47

BEIJING, November 9 (RIA Novosti) - Six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program are unlikely to resume earlier than the first half of December, a Russian deputy foreign minister said Thursday.

"We have not discussed with China a concrete date for the talks, but in my personal opinion it will hardly be technically possible before the first half of December," Alexander Alekseyev said following talks Wednesday with Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei.

The six-nation talks, involving North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States, were launched in 2003 to persuade North Korea to give up its controversial nuclear program after Pyongyang withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The talks stalled last November over Pyongyang's demand that the U.S. lift sanctions imposed on it for its alleged involvement in counterfeiting and other illegal activities.

Alekseyev said the timetable largely depends on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit scheduled to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in mid-November, where leaders of South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States will discuss the North Korean nuclear issue and will approach the next round of the six-nation talks with a "more or less coordinated position."

The Russian diplomat said that an early resumption of talks was of equal importance to all the parties involved.

"It was also decided that the next session of the fifth round [of talks] should be thoroughly prepared, so as to yield concrete results in the end," Alekseyev said.

Alekseyev, who heads the Russian delegation at the six-nation talks, said that he also met in China with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns.

"We mainly discussed the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1718," he said.

UN Security Council Resolution 1718 imposes weapons and financial sanctions on Pyongyang in the wake of the reclusive regime's October 9 announcement that it successfully tested a nuclear device. Russia supported the sanctions but spoke against the use of military force against North Korea.

On Wednesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry said that North Korea's First Deputy Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju was in Moscow on a private visit.

The visit, originally not confirmed by either North Korea's Moscow Embassy or the Russian Foreign Ministry, immediately raised speculations about contacts between Moscow and Pyongyang, aimed at the earliest possible resumption of the stalled six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program.

South Korean media said Kang Sok Ju visited Beijing Tuesday, and left for Moscow following talks with Chinese Foreign Ministry officials.

Chinese and U.S. diplomats reportedly met Wednesday in Beijing, a move believed to have been an effort to help restart the talks.

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