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Envoys Cracking Hard Nuts on 3rd Day, No Agreement Reached
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Envoys to the six-party talks on Saturday struggled to decide on the first steps toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but no agreement was reached.

The negotiations, which entered the third day as chief envoys discussed specifics on the initial steps required to implement a 2005 statement, may still take "another day or two" to overcome difficulties, according to the Chief US negotiator Christopher Hill.

"There is definitely an issue preventing us from sealing the deal right now", Hill said, without further elaborating, adding that in fact he had some really good bilateral and multilateral discussions.

"If we can get closer on these issues, we can solve the overall problems and get a set of initial actions", Hill told reporters after he returned to the hotel late Saturday night.

Qin Gang, spokesman for the Chinese delegation, told a press conference on Saturday evening that differences were narrowed among the six parties.

"The disagreement on some specific items won't affect the concerned parties to reach the consensus", Qin noted.

According to Qin, the discussion centered on the economic and energy cooperation with North Korea on Saturday and the differences on the issue "still remain large", Qin said.
China still expects some positive outcomes from the talks despite difficulties during the process of building consensus, Qin said.

"No resolution has been reached so far," Japanese negotiator Kenichiro Sasae said at the end of Saturday's talks.

The situation is still "tough" at the six-party talks as the direction for a solution cannot be seen on some questions, Sasae said.

The major stumbling block remained on North Korea's denuclearization steps and other parties' compensation measures.

The draft agreement was circulated to the delegates Thursday night, a document that could see envoys take the first steps towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
All parties have been working on revising the document on Saturday.

The revisions would cover the issues of how working groups operate, and how to provide aid to the North Korea, provided consensus is reached, Russian representative Alexander Losyukov said Saturday morning.

"The biggest obstacle to reaching a joint statement remains on the issue of the economic aid to the North Korea," said Losyukov after he finished bilateral consultation with other parties.

He said that no final figures on the economic aid to North Korea were decided yet, declining to reveal North Korea's demand for the economic aid but stressing all the other issues could be resolved under the six-party framework.

The delegation from China, host to the six-party talks since the mechanism began in 2003, held separate one-on-one consultations with all the other five parties on Saturday in order to coordinate their differences, sources with the press center of the talks said.

There have been more than 10 one-on-one meetings and multilateral talks held on Saturday, according to the press center.

Reports said the draft agreement proposed halting within two months work at nuclear sites in North Korea, including the Yongbyon reactor, and supplying Pyongyang with alternative energy sources.

Later Saturday, an official of South Korea said on condition of anonymity that Saturday's talks were active and positive.

After a 48-day recess, the negotiators gathered again in Beijing on Thursday to explore the first steps in implementing the 2005 statement.

In the joint statement, North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.

(Xinhua News Agency February 10, 2007)

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