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China Praises Reactor Shutdown as Six-Party Talks Loom
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China on Tuesday hailed the shutting down of the Yongbyon nuclear plant in North Korea. Meanwhile, chief negotiators from United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea congregated on Beijing ahead of a two-day sitting of the six-party talks aiming to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, due to start on Wednesday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao expressed China's hopes that concerted efforts will be made on all sides to see commitments fully carried out and thus reach an early implementation of the joint document issued last February 13.

"We've got a lot of work to do, and we've got a lot of catching-up to do," US Chief Negotiator to the six-party talks Christopher Hill said upon arrival at the airport.

He revealed he would meet with the North Korean delegation later Tuesday, and probably hold similar meetings with the Russian and Japanese envoys ahead of the talks.

During the meeting, the chief delegates are set to explore the next set of steps to be performed on the road towards denuclearization.

The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed on Monday that North Korea had shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, a key goal succeeding in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Under the Feb 13 agreement, North Korea pledged to shut down the Yongbyon reactor within 60 days after receiving 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil or equivalent aid.

The six sides are also planning to host a meeting of foreign ministers after the initial steps have been implemented, according to the agreement.

(Xinhua News Agency July 17, 2007)

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