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5th Round of 6-Party Talks Prepares Way for Next

The fifth round of the six-party talks aiming at resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is "to prepare the way for the next round of talks", the White House said on Wednesday.

"I think the way I would describe this round is that it's a three-day period of talks to prepare the way for the next round of talks, which will likely take place next month," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told a news briefing.

"We were able to take an important step at the last round of talks and reach an agreement on important principles. We all have a shared goal of a nuclear-weapons-free peninsula.

The fifth round of six-party talks, which involve China, North Korea, the Unites States, South Korea, Russia and Japan, started Wednesday in Beijing.

At the previous talks, the six parties reached their first-ever joint statement, in which North Korea agreed to abandon all its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in exchange for energy aid and security guarantees.

However, Washington and Pyongyang are divided over when North Korea should open up to disarmament inspectors and whether in return it would receive compensation including a new light-water nuclear reactor for energy.

Chief US negotiator Christopher Hill restated on Wednesday Washington's position that Pyongyang could not receive the reward of a light-water reactor for atomic energy until it had disarmed and opened to nuclear inspectors.

(Xinhua News Agency November 10, 2005)

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