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China: North Korea Talks May Be Prolonged Over Energy Aid February 5, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.
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BEIJING (Dow Jones)–China’s chief delegate to the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs said Monday that while he expects the negotiations to wrap up in three days, they could be extended, depending on discussions over energy aid to Pyongyang, according to a Japanese lawmaker who met him, the Kyodo news service reported.

Takeshi Noda, a lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, also quoted Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei as saying that the six-party participants must make concrete progress in the talks that are to begin later this week in Beijing, Kyodo reported.

Wu said that “three days would be enough” for the upcoming six-way nuclear negotiations, Noda told reporters.

“If the meeting is extended, it will be because of” energy aid to North Korea, Noda quoted Wu as saying, referring to assistance that will be provided to Pyongyang in exchange for initial denuclearization steps to be taken by the country, Kyodo reported.

According to U.S. experts who visited Pyongyang last week, senior North Korean officials told them that Pyongyang wants more than 500,000 tons of fuel oil and other benefits in exchange for the initial steps for denuclearization.

While the initial steps have never been made public, diplomats say they involve the halting of a reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex and the acceptance of safeguard inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Kyodo reported.

Noda said that while Wu did not elaborate, the impression he got was that the talks would be extended beyond the three-day time frame if the negotiators were able to go into the details of the plan and perhaps discuss the next steps, rather than because they would not be able to agree on anything, Kyodo reported.

Noda also said that the delegates to the six-party talks will start arriving in Beijing on Wednesday for the talks that the Chinese government has said will resume Thursday.

Wu, however, said that full-fledged discussions will only begin Friday, according to Noda.

The multilateral nuclear talks were last held in Beijing in December after a 13-month hiatus, but they ended without tangible progress toward the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

The six countries involved in the talks are North and South Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.

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