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Nuclear talks show signs of progress
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The six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue are moving in the "correct" direction despite difficulties that have yet to be settled on the way forward, the chief Chinese delegate said Thursday.

Thanks to joint efforts, "we are faced with a new season of harvest (for the six-nation talks)," Wu Dawei, who is also vice-foreign minister, said at the opening of the latest session of the multilateral talks in Beijing.

"This meeting is an important one in the Six-Party Talks process. Its main task is to discuss and determine the action plan for the next stage, " he said.

Negotiators at the talks, which groups host China, the United States, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan, are trying to work out a roadmap for specific measures to disable the DPRK's nuclear facilities.

Under an agreement reached by the six countries on February 13, the DPRK agreed to declare all its nuclear programs and shut down its nuclear facilities in exchange for 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil, or the monetary equivalent in other aid and assistance. It shut down and sealed its Yongbyon reactor in July.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said yesterday that China's shipment of 50,000 tons of oil arrived in the DPRK recently. The ROK provided the first batch of 50,000 tons.

The US is expected to unveil a detailed plan concerning the denuclearization process today, top US negotiator Christopher Hill said last night.

"We will circulate a joint statement. The joint statement is going to specify that the disablement and declaration have to be done by the year-end," US Assistant Secretary of State Hill told reporters upon returning to his hotel after a plenary session of the talks.

"It (the joint statement) will be more specific in terms of timing. Also it has to lay out how the fuel oil is provided, so it would be more detailed," Hill said.

"Basically, we have agreed on most of the disablement measures, and we have made some proposals to the additional measures," Hill said.

Diplomats have suggested that differences still need to be ironed out for the denuclearization process to make progress.

Chun Yung-woo, the chief ROK delegate, said there were still some differences between what the DPRK was intending to do on disablement and what the other countries wanted done.

"Still, the DPRK has a strong resolve to obtain results from this Six-Party Talks, and other countries also want to obtain results. So I believe it's not impossible to overcome that difference," Chun told reporters.

Japanese envoy Kenichiro Sasae described yesterday's talks as "a polite exchange where we discussed some ideas".

The negotiators will hear a summary of results from each of the five working group meetings that took place prior to this phase of the talks, which are expected to run until Sunday.

Chinese observers have said a roadmap on the declaration and disablement of nuclear facilities as well as specific actions on providing economic aid is likely at the end of this session based on the positive signs that have been sent out by related parties.

"The general development of the talks is active. The working group meetings prior to the talks in the past weeks as well as the contacts between the US and the DPRK and the US and the ROK demonstrate positive signs," said Liu Jiangyong, a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University.

(China Daily September 28, 2007)

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