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Six-Party Talks to Continue till Friday
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The ongoing six-party talks on the Korean Peninsular nuke issue have been extended to Friday with a "new consensus" achieved after intense negotiations.

"The six chief negotiators agreed to continue the talks on Thursday and Friday," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told reporters on Wednesday evening.

"We feel it is worth continuing these discussions," Assistant US Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters late Wednesday.

Formally known as the second phase of the fifth round since 2003, the talks resumed on Monday after a 13-month suspension and bring together China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Russia. 

"New consensus has been reached in the resumed talks thanks to all parties' arduous efforts," Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said in a meeting with all six chief negotiators Wednesday afternoon.

The fresh consensus, as Li announced, included all parties reiterating the implementation of the September joint statement, a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and the adherence to a common vision of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

The ongoing talks focused on the implementation of the joint statement in September 2005.

Under this joint statement, the DPRK would abandon its nuclear program and receive economic aid and security guarantees.

On Wednesday, several one-on-one meetings were held, including a "lengthy meeting" between Hill and his DPRK counterpart Kim Kye-gwan.

On the sidelines of the six-party talks, US treasury officials and their DPRK counterparts held their second day of financial negotiations, with progress looking hopeful.

"I thought the meeting was business-like and useful," Daniel Glaser, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury Department's, told reporters Wednesday night at the hotel.

Glaser, who is leading the US delegation, held five-hour talks with President of the DPRK's Foreign Trade Bank O Kwang Chol in the DPRK embassy Wednesday.

No details of the talks were released, but Glaser stressed the DPRK should "underline the concerns of the international financial society."

"We also discussed the possibility of meeting next month, perhaps in New York," he said, confirming his delegation will return home tomorrow.

Financial sanctions imposed on the DPRK remain a key stumbling block stalling the six-party talks.

The two-day negotiations between the DRPK and the United States are a "positive sign" of improvement in bilateral relations, spokesperson Jiang Yu said.

"It is not quite possible for this-phase talks to achieve significant breakthrough, but minor achievements may be likely," said Jin Linbo, a researcher with China Institute of International Studies.

"Certainly we are talking about much more than just agreeing on things on paper," Hill said. "We were discussing actual development on the ground. Whether we are successful at the end of the week, time will tell."

On Thursday, Hill will meet again with his DPRK counterpart.

(Xinhua News Agency December 21, 2006)

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