The six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula will restart in Beijing on February 8, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
"As a result of the consultations of the parties concerned, the third phase of the fifth-round six-party talks will resume on February 8," ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news briefing.
The last phase recessed in December without a breakthrough following five days of negotiations.
"There have been contacts between the various parties on how to move the talks forward and implement the joint statement of September 19, 2005," in which Pyongyang agreed to give up its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees, Jiang said, adding that these contacts have laid the foundation for the resumption of the talks.
The past week saw a wave of diplomatic visits to Beijing by negotiators from the US, North Korea, South Korea and Japan. Top US negotiator Christopher Hill and his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan met in Berlin in mid-January.
The statement came as the US and North Korea began talks in Beijing yesterday afternoon about financial sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by Washington.
Daniel Glaser, the top US delegate to the financial talks, told reporters yesterday that he hoped for "progress" following meetings with his North Korean counterpart O Kwang-chol, president of the country's Foreign Trade Bank.
"We are prepared to go through with these talks for as long as it takes to get through our agenda," said Glaser, the Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes.
Pyongyang had named Washington's financial restrictions as their reason for boycotting the six-party talks, but the latter insists these sanctions are related to North Korea's alleged illicit financial activities and are wholly unrelated to the nuclear disarmament talks.
Turning to the Darfur issue, Jiang said China continues to hope for a resolution through political consultations, addressing the concerns of all relevant parties.
China also hopes the UN Security Council will pass a resolution of offering funds to the African Union peacekeeping forces in Sudan as soon as possible, she added.
In another development, Jiang said an international treaty would be the best channel to prevent an arms race in space.
China and Russia have submitted many working documents to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that have garnered support from many countries, she noted.
Jiang announced Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico will visit China from February 5 to 9 at the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily January 31, 2007)