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Hill: China Proposes to Set up Working Groups on Six-Party Talks
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China proposed to set up working groups to deal with implementation of the September-19 joint statement, said US chief negotiator Christopher Hill on Monday afternoon.

"We would expect to have several working groups that will be organized to figure out how to implement energy and economic assistance to the DPRK, and we also have a working group on the eventual normalization of the DPRK-US relation," Hill told reporters at a hotel in Beijing.

"So I think the Chinese side is telling the idea of setting up working groups," said Hill, also assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

Chief negotiators of the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue gathered in the Chinese capital Monday after an interval of 13 months, initiating a new phrase of negotiation on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The six parties held a plenary session on Monday morning after a head-gathering, vowing to take the opportunity to implement the landmark joint statement.

"I suspect in the next couple of days we could get down to discuss what will be the working groups like and what they are trying to deal," Hill said, noting that it is just "preliminary session" and no "real surprise" in the first day of the nuclear talks.

The chief negotiator also emphasized the current situation of the six-party talks as "coming to an important juncture".

"So we are at the fork of road. I can't tell which road the DPRK is choosing. We could go either road and would like a denuclearization via a diplomatic way," said Hill.

"We don't have the option to work away from this problem," Hill added.

Launched in 2003, the six-party talks have been held for five rounds. However, the talks have remained stalled since the DPRK walked out of the negotiations more than a year ago in response to US sanctions.

In late November, chief negotiators of North Korea, the United States, South Korea and Japan came to Beijing to join their Chinese counterpart in laying the groundwork for the resumption of the talks.

(Xinhua News Agency December 19, 2006)

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