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Main Task Outlined for Nuclear Talks
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The main task of the fifth-round six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, which began in Beijing Wednesday morning, is "to outline details, ways and procedures for the implementation of the joint statement adopted in September," said Chinese chief negotiator Wu Dawei.


The task should be fulfilled in line with the principle of "commitment to commitment and action to action," said Wu, also Chinese vice foreign minister, at the opening session of the talks.


In the joint statement, adopted at the fourth round of the six-party talks which ended in last September, North Korea agreed to abandon all its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in exchange for energy aid and security guarantees.


Wu suggested the fifth round be carried out in phases: the delegation heads of the six nations first table a general scenario and a working group or expert panel works out detailed rules and submit them to the delegation heads for consultations.


At a press briefing Wednesday evening, spokesman of the Chinese delegation Qin Gang said all delegation heads agreed at the plenary meeting that it would be an appropriate choice to set up working teams or expert panels to implement the joint statement, but more discussions were needed for a detailed and operable mechanism.


Qin said given the fact that the negotiators still differed in how to implement the joint statement, the Chinese delegation hoped they would adopt a pragmatic, flexible and discreet attitude to find a solution that is acceptable to all.


Meanwhile, Song Min-soon, South Korean chief negotiator, said the on-going talks would talk about three topics.


The topics included North Korea's abandonment of nuclear weapons, economic and energy aid to North Korea and the normalization of bilateral ties between certain countries, Song told reporters Wednesday evening.


He said the current phase of talks was not aimed at reaching any agreement, but rather making preparations for substantial talks at the next phase of talks.


"The current phase of talks will not talk about the constitution of the expert teams," He said.


He also urged all parties to focus on the joint statement and not to deviate from the framework set up by the document.


So far, the US and North Korea are still 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.


The US side claimed that North Korea should first abandon its nuclear program and create a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, then other issues could be discussed.


"When North Korea is back to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons with the IAEA safeguards, at an appropriate time we'll have a discussion about the subject of the provision of light water reactor," US chief negotiator Christopher Hill told reporters Wednesday morning.


On the possible North Korea-US bilateral meetings during the current talks, Hill said many two-way discussions would be held and it was likely for them to meet with the North Korean counterparts.


According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, so far the six parties have held 16 rounds of bilateral consultations. But no information of US-North Korea contact was available.


Sasae Kenichiro, Japan's chief negotiator, called on all parties to voice their stances on how to implement the joint statement reached in September.


He said Japan would "actively voice its opinions in detail" for the implementation of the joint statement, he told reporters when leaving the hotel Wednesday morning.


The six-party talks involves China, the US, North and South Korea, Russia and Japan.


China has hosted four rounds of the six-party talks since August, 2003.


(Xinhua News Agency November 10, 2005)

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