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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

APEC summit to see discussion of North Korean nuclear program

RIA Novosti


SINGAPORE, November 9 (RIA Novosti) - APEC leaders will discuss North Korea's nuclear program on the sidelines of a two-day summit in Singapore, the head of the Russian delegation at six-party talks on the issue has told RIA Novosti.

"It stands to reason that we intend to put to use possible contacts with our colleagues from China, South Korea, Japan, the United States and other countries to compare our positions on the sidelines of the summit, including [our views] on the Korean Peninsula nuclear problem," Alexei Borodavkin said.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meetings began on Sunday and will culminate in a summit on November 14-15.

Borodavkin, who is also a Russian deputy foreign minister, said although the development of trade and economic cooperation remained the main focus of APEC gatherings, leaders of the organization's member states would not pass up the opportunity to discuss regional security issues

"However, it is not usual practice to discuss critical political problems with all APEC participants during our meetings," Borodavkin added.

APEC comprises 21 states, including Australia, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Singapore, the United States, and Japan.

The Kremlin earlier said that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev would meet with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on the sidelines of the summit. U.S. President Barack Obama is also due to attend.

Six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., Russia, Japan and China on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula ground came to a halt in April when North Korea walked out of negotiations in protest against the United Nations' condemnation of its missile tests.

The country is banned from conducting nuclear or ballistic tests under UN Resolution 1718, adopted after North Korea's first nuclear test on October 9, 2006.

However, Pyongyang carried out a second nuclear test on May 25 this year, followed by a series of short-range missile launches, and has threatened to build up its nuclear arsenal to counter what it calls hostile U.S. policies. The move led to the UN imposing new sanctions on North Korea banning the import and export of nuclear material and all weapons except small arms.

The North recently hinted that it was willing to return to multilateral talks, but insisted it first negotiate directly with the United States to repair "hostile relations."

Meanwhile, North Korea said last week it had "successfully completed the reprocessing of 8,000 spent fuel rods" by late August and seen "remarkable achievements in weaponizing extracted plutonium to strengthen North Korea's nuclear deterrence."

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