Christopher Hill, chief US negotiator for six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, will travel to Beijing next Tuesday, sources with the US embassy in China said yesterday.
Although Hill's detailed schedule is not yet available, reports quoted an unnamed official from the US State Department saying that he would meet with his six-party counterparts and hold discussions with senior government officials "on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest."
Hill will also travel to Chengdu, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, will leave Washington on Sunday and stop over in Tokyo on Monday.
He will travel to Beijing on Tuesday and heads to Seoul on September 11 before returning to the US the following day.
Analysts said Hill apparently wants to meet his counterparts from the three nations to discuss how to deal with the long-stalled nuclear talks as well as measures to deal with Pyongyang's missile tests in line with a UN Security Council resolution.
With the six-party talks in a state of paralysis, Liu Jiangyong, a senior researcher with Tsinghua University, said Hill is attempting "to break the stalemate through a new round of shuttle diplomacy."
He said recent news reports that North Korea could be preparing to conduct a nuclear test are also likely to be on the agenda.
The nuclear talks have become more pressing after Pyongyang raised tensions in early July by test-firing seven missiles despite international objections.
"The current situation is detrimental to dialogue in the East Asia region," Liu said.
He said the missile launches have sparked the upgrading of US and Japanese military capabilities in the region, which will further disrupt the security balance.
A peaceful solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula still conforms to the interests of the US and Japan, Liu said.
And that is why Hill is hoping to reaffirm and improve commitment from China, Japan and South Korea to restart the talks.
Liu said Seoul is taking similar action; President Roh Moo-hyun is reportedly headed for the US for the same purpose.
The six-party talks, which involve China, the US, North and South Korea, Russia and Japan have been stalled since the fifth round last November, with Pyongyang refusing to return to the table unless Washington lifts financial sanctions.
(China Daily September 1, 2006)