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Five-party dialogue 'possible' without DPRK
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The continuation of Six-Party Talks is the best hope for a Korean Peninsula free from nuclear weapons, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Tuesday.

He made the remarks after being asked whether five nations China, the US, Russia, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) would get back around the table without the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

"China will keep communication and consultation with relevant parties on how to proceed with the Six-Party Talks," Qin said.

The DPRK had been a participant in the six-way disarmament talks but announced its withdrawal after being condemned by the United Nations Security Council following its rocket launch on April 5.

The UN Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 1874 on June 12 following the DPRK's subsequent nuclear test on May 25.

The resolution, which calls for new sanctions against the DPRK, told the DPRK not to conduct additional nuclear tests or launch ballistic missiles. The resolution also urged the country to return to the Six-Party Talks without preconditions.

Analysts said an unofficial meeting of the five remaining nations could be held if the DPRK will not get around the table.

"It's fine for the five nations to meet on some occasions to discuss the nuclear issue. It's not feasible for them to meet officially, which would blank off the DPRK's return to the Six-Party Talks," said Jin Canrong, deputy dean of the school of international studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing.

"Any forms of dialogue, including talks among the five nations, might be tried, as long as they can help achieve the goals of denuclearization and regional peace," said Liu Jiangyong, a scholar on East Asian affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Liu suggested the five nations could have "communication among themselves at a certain level", and inform the DPRK of the content of their exchanges.

"This would show their sincerity and may bring a favorable turn to the current situation," he explained.

ROK President Lee Myung-bak proposed a meeting between the ROK, the US, Japan, China and Russia during his summit with US President Barack Obama in mid-June, according to the Korea Herald.

In his one-day visit to Japan on Monday that was part of the two countries' "shuttle diplomacy", Lee and his Japanese counterpart, Taro Aso, agreed to push for a meeting of the five members to discuss how the DPRK might be brought back to the talks, the Korea Herald reported.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin said after a meeting with his ROK counterpart, Wi Sung-lac, that Russia was not against talks without the DPRK, as long as the goal was to persuade Pyongyang to return to the negotiation table, the Associated Press reported.

The DPRK appears to be enriching uranium, which gives the nation the potential to make atomic weapons, ROK's defense minister, Lee Sang-hee, told a parliamentary hearing Tuesday, according to Reuters.

"It is clear that they are moving forward with it," he said.

(China Daily July 1, 2009)

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