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Working Group on Denuclearization Opens First Meeting
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The six-party talks working group on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula began its first meeting Saturday morning in Beijing, focusing on specific measures of the denuclearization.

The meeting started at 10:00 AM at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, the same venue for the six-party nuclear talks.

Wu Dawei, chief negotiator of the Chinese delegation as well as the head of the working group, presided over the meeting.

Wu said in his opening remarks before the plenary meeting that during the two-day working group meeting, concerned parties may have bilateral consultations on Saturday afternoon, and another plenary session is expected on Sunday.

Representatives of other five parties are, Minister of North Korea to China Kim Song Gi, US top negotiator Christopher Hill, chief negotiator of South Korea Chun Yung Woo, and Russian ambassador at large Grigory Berdennikov.

Japan was represented by its ambassador in charge of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue Suda Akio and its chief negotiator for six-party talks Kenichiro Sasae.

During Saturday morning's plenary session, each of the six parties made a key-note speech, and expressed their respective positions concerning the future task of the denuclearization working group, South Korea chief negotiator Chun Yung Woo told a press briefing on Saturday evening.

North Korea told other parties it had started preparations for shutting down the Yongbyon nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, North Korean delegation stressed whether disablement of the nuclear facilities could proceed smoothly depends on other countries' fulfilling of their corresponding commitments, Chun told a press briefing.

If conditions are mature, North Korean delegation said, it would take relevant measures on its nuclear facilities, including declaration of the facilities and disablement, according to Chun.

Parties focused on the topics such as the task of the next phase after the first 60 days, as well as the relations between the denuclearization group and the International Atomic Energy Agency, South Korea top negotiator said.

The South Korea delegation also suggested the parties reach common understanding on the definition of "disablement". Parties concerned consented and agreed to confer the definition of the word through working talks, Chun said.

In the afternoon, South Korea, the United States and Japan held working talks, in which they discussed some hot topics and definitions concerning the implementation of the Feb. 13 joint document, according to him.

Hill said Saturday evening the Banco Delta Asia (BDA) issue would not be a problem for the process of the six-party talks.

"I don't believe we would have any problem with the BDA issue," Hill told reporters when he returned the hotel.

He called Saturday a "good day", saying things were "on schedule". He briefed the North Korea delegation on the BDA issue.

"I gave them some details and facts about the case that we didn't brief before," Hill said, "I do believe we will fulfill our commitment on BDA."

He said North Korea gave a statement that is "very balanced" and indicated they are "under way" and fulfilling their obligations.

Hill said he will meet North Korean chief negotiator Kim Kye-Gwan on Sunday or Monday.

Three working group meetings were held in Beijing ahead of the fresh round of six-party talks scheduled on Monday.

Besides the denuclearization working group, the energy cooperation working group, headed by the South Korea side, started its first meeting Thursday afternoon. The working group on Northeast Asia security, headed by the Russian side, launched its meeting on Friday.

During the last round of talks which ended on Feb. 13, the six parties reached consensus on setting up five working groups to discuss details of ways to implement the initial steps of Sept. 19 joint statement.

The other two working groups on the normalization of North Korea-US and North Korea-Japan relations had already held their first meetings in New York and Hanoi in early March, respectively.

(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2007)

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