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Six-Party Talks: Working Group Discusses N. Korea Aid
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The six-party talks' working group on economy and energy cooperation held its first meeting Thursday afternoon at the South Korean embassy in Beijing.

The meeting, attended by South Korean chief negotiator Chun Yung Woo and officials from the five other nations, primarily revolved around North Korea's need for assistance and other nations' intentions as to this assistance, sources with the South Korean delegation revealed.

Chun announced that the discussion touched upon North Korea's current energy situation, enumerating the fields in which the five other parties could provide assistance, the timeframe and size of any assistance, as well as studying technical issues such as the price conversion between heavy oil and other assistance items.

Chun indicated that the meeting on economic and energy cooperation had begun within 30 days of the February talks, another sign that all parties remain fully committed to carrying out the Feb. 13 joint document "on process", according to the press center of South Korean delegation.

During the last round of talks, the six parties reached a consensus on the initial steps needed to implement the joint statement.

The steps included the creation of five working groups, each one tackling a particular area of the agreement, respectively dealing with denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea-US relations, North Korea-Japan relations, economic and energy resources cooperation, and peace and security of northeast Asia.

Negotiators of six parties have started three working group meetings since Thursday, aiming to discuss details of ways to implement the initial steps of Sept. 19 joint statement.

Two other working groups, relating to regional security and disarmament, are set to meet in the next few days ahead of the full resumption of the six-party talks next Monday.

The two working groups of North Korea-US relations and North Korea-Japan relations already met in early March in New York and Hanoi respectively.

(Xinhua News Agency March 16, 2007)

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