The third round of six-party talks on the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula will take place on June 23, senior officials with the talks disclosed, according to Japan's Kyodo News Service.
The Yonhap News Agency of the Republic of Korea (ROK) also reported that sources confirmed the date for discussions is "almost set," adding that participating countries will hold a smaller working-level dialogue on June 21-22 to lay the stage for plenary talks.
China has not yet confirmed the exact date, but on Saturday the Chinese Foreign Ministry said diplomats would be sent to the related countries for consultations before the third round of six-party talks scheduled for later this month.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that Ning Fukui, ambassador on Korean Peninsula affairs, will visit Russia, the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) "soon" for working consultations related to the third round of talks.
Cui Tiankai, director-general of the ministry's Asian Affairs Department, will also exchange views with Japanese and ROK officials during his upcoming visit to the two countries, said Liu.
At the first working group meeting on the six-party talks in Beijing last month, negotiators from the DPRK, the United States, China, the ROK, Russia and Japan agreed the third round of talks would be held in Beijing before the end of June after one more working-level discussion.
"The third round of six-party talks is very important," said Liu, adding the key to success lies in whether all parties concerned will be fully prepared before the talks.
With still "comparatively big differences" among the parties concerned, China hopes the related parties will continue to take a constructive attitude, show flexibility to the fullest, seek and expand common ground, narrow differences, and work actively to find solutions, the spokesman said.
The first round of six-party talks was held in Beijing last August and the second in February.
Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov said the DPRK has the right to retain its nuclear program for peaceful uses on the condition of fulfilling all requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Itar-Tass reported. Trubnikov made the remarks during the 3rd Security Conference of Defence Ministers of Asia and the Pacific Rim in Singapore on Friday.
Outside the group, Indonesia has informally proposed that foreign ministers of the six nations hold talks on the issue in Jakarta next month.
Indonesia will host the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum (ARF) on July 2 in Jakarta.
(China Daily via agencies, June 7, 2004)