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FM: Six-Party Nuclear Talks 'Open-ended'
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The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced yesterday the ongoing six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue would be "open-ended."


"The duration of the current talks will depend on the progress made and will be determined by consensus among the six parties," ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing.


Qin urged more patience from the delegates, joking that "envoys should run a marathon to build their stamina."


"As long as the six-party talks go on, the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue can be resolved peacefully," Qin said. "The time and effort we spend are not in vain, and the expectations of the international community have not been disappointed," he noted.


Launched in 2003, the new round of six-party talks involving China, the US, Japan, Russia, North and South Korea entered its second day yesterday, with discussions oriented to the implementation of the joint statement adopted in September 2005 during the fourth round of talks.


Under the joint statement, North Korea agreed to jettison its nuclear program in return for economic aid and security guarantees.


Qin said the six parties need further discussions to decide the establishment, number and focus of working groups.


Setting up working groups is part of implementing the joint statement, he said, adding that China hopes all sides will agree on the form and number of the groups through consultation.


Qin said the working group on financial issues is subject to the agreement of North Korea and the US.


China has stated its position on financial sanctions, reiterating its hope that the parties can handle the issue on a factual and legal basis, without disturbing the six-party talks process, he added.


Qin said the Chinese side will take an objective and balanced attitude, taking into consideration all parties' concerns, listening to suggestions and opinions and seeking common ground between the delegations.


According to Qin, a total of 12 bilateral meetings are scheduled to be held, and China will have seven bilateral contacts with the other five parties separately.


Commenting on the nuclear deal between the US and India, Qin said nuclear cooperation for civilian use "should be conducive to safeguarding the principles and effectiveness of the international nuclear non-proliferation mechanism."


US President George W. Bush signed a landmark law on Monday allowing the sale of civilian nuclear technology and fuel to India, overturning a 30-year-old US ban on supplying India with such material. The ban was imposed in 1974 following India's first nuclear test.


In another development, Qin said China has requested the EU remove an "outdated and discriminatory" arms embargo policy against it.


He made the remarks when commenting on whether any progress would be made in resolving the arms embargo issue between the EU and China during the Finnish presidency of the EU.


Qin said China has taken a very firm and clear stance on the issue and opposed the EU's arms embargo policy.


China wants the discriminatory policy to be removed not because it seeks to buy weapons from the EU, but because a discriminatory policy of this kind has no place in an all-round Sino-European strategic partnership based on equality and mutual respect, Qin noted.


China hopes the EU will show true political courage and determination and remove the arms embargo policy to further the sound development of China-EU relations.


(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily December 20, 2006)

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