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Six-Party Talks: Last-Ditch Efforts for Deal
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All six envoys involved in the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue burnt the midnight oil trying to hammer out a deal, but no agreements have yet been announced.


Instead of returning to their hotels, all chief negotiators remained in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse for a series of one-on-one and multilateral talks from Monday 10 AM to Tuesday 2:30 AM, according to Qin Gang, spokesman of the Chinese delegation.


Qin briefed the press on early Tuesday morning that the consultation would continue into Tuesday, hailing the 16-hour-long multilateral consultations as "extraordinary intensive", Qin said.



The six parties have made their "utmost efforts" with some positive results have been achieved, Qin said, adding these needed to be further confirmed.


A final version of China’s draft for a joint document was distributed, according to US top negotiator Christopher Hill. He described it as "excellent", but it still needs to be approved by the respective capitals of each delegation.


"I think we made a lot of progress. I'm encouraged by this. We might be able to take a real step towards denuclearization", Hill said


Echoing Hill's comments, Russian representative Alexander Losyukov said that the overall text of the draft was good but expressed his feeling that differences remained on certain details.


The first version of the draft, circulated last Thursday, apparently proposes shutting down nuclear work in the DPRK within two months, including the Yongbyon reactor, and supplying Pyongyang with alternative energy sources.


"If the draft is finally adopted by various parties, it is definitely a breakthrough (on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue)", the Russian chief negotiator said.


The long-awaited "breakthrough" may be near at hand, given the ROK chief negotiator Chun Yung Woo’s announcement that the six parties had reached preliminary agreements on the initial steps of the denuclearization process and energy cooperation with the DPRK.


"Since the text of the draft still needs final approval from their respective home countries of the six parties, I'm not sure it will come out today or tomorrow", Chun added, highlighting the probable delay that could precede any agreement.


According to Chun, the DPRK side has already green-lit the draft and expressed its "basic satisfaction" over the figures mentioned within it.


The final stumbling block could be Tokyo since Japanese negotiator Kenichiro Sasae stated Japan would seriously study on the final version of the draft, indicating it was unlikely to be 100 percent satisfactory to Japan as the document has to cover the interests of various parties.


"I have to report the final draft to my country and decide our measures," said Sasae.


To coordinate differences, China held several rounds of bilateral meetings with the DPRK and the United States from Monday afternoon to Tuesday morning, whilst the DPRK and US envoys also met one-on-one.


Envoys from China, the DPRK, the United States, the ROK, Japan and Russia reconvened in Beijing on Thursday following a 48-day recess.


However, the talks stalled over the energy aid to the DPRK following consultations on a Chinese draft, which involves the moves the DPRK would undertake to abandon its nuclear program in return for economic aid and security guarantees.


(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2007)

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