China on Tuesday announced that foreign ministers from the six nations involved in the Korean Peninsula nuclear talks will meet in Singapore on Wednesday.
"Six foreign ministers will meet on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Singapore," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.
Though called "informal," this will be the first gathering of foreign ministers from China, the United States, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan, since the talks were launched in 2003.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will chair the event, which has no set agenda.
"Foreign ministers will sum up the achievements in the nuclear talks and discuss ways to move ahead," Liu said.
The meeting comes just 10 days after the six nations' chief envoys met in Beijing and agreed to establish a verification mechanism for the DPRK's denuclearization. In return, the DPRK will get energy and economic aid. They also reiterated that the six-party ministerial meeting would be held at an appropriate time.
"We hope positive results will come out of this meeting so as to achieve the objectives set in the joint statements at an early date," Liu said.
The U.S. State Department termed the gathering "a meeting to review where the six-party process is at the moment."
The ROK Foreign Ministry said that "the unprecedented gathering of six foreign ministers itself would be a significant milestone in resolving the nuclear issue."
The ASEAN forum has always served as a diplomatic arena to engage the DPRK. In 2002 and 2004, then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell met his DPRK counterparts on the sidelines of the meetings.
(Xinhua News Agency July 23, 2008)