September 5, 2008

Nuclear Envoys to North Korea Talks Meeting in Beijing – Yonhap

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

[Updated version: Updates throughout with start of meetings in Beijing; changes dateline per 0846 gmt source update; By Lee Ji- dong: "Envoys To Discuss Pyongyang's Nuclear Resumption"]

BEIJING/SEOUL, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) - Nuclear envoys began a flurry of meetings in Beijing on Friday to discuss ways of dealing with Pyongyang's move to restart its reactor and find a breakthrough on how to verify the secretive regime's nuclear declaration.

South Korea's chief negotiator, Kim Suk [Kim Sook], met his Japanese counterpart, Akitaka Saiki. Kim also plans to hold talks with to US envoy Christopher Hill later in the day to coordinate a strategy to prevent the situation from getting worse.

"The chief delegates to the six-way talks (on the nuclear crisis) from the three nations will have a trilateral meeting over dinner today," a South Korean official said.

This week's emergency gathering of the envoys follows reports that North Korea has begun work to reassemble its plutonium- producing reactor in Yonbgyon that was being disabled under a multilateral disarmament deal.

"Undesirable situations have continued recently. It is not a good condition for progress in the six-way talks (on the North's nuclear programme)," Kim told reporters before heading to the Chinese capital earlier in the day.

"We need to break the deadlock at an early date. It is an important moment in which North Korea should resume the disablement measure and enter the six-way talks process," Kim said.

It remains uncertain whether the top North Korean negotiator, Kim Kye-gwan [Kim Kye Gwan], will join a round of diplomatic meetings in Beijing.

"There is no information on whether North Korean officials will come to Beijing," he said, adding he will meet with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, who chairs the six-way talks, before returning to Seoul. Russia is also a member of the negotiations that began in 2003.

The North submitted in June a list detailing its nuclear activity, and in return, the US announced its plan to rescind the designation of the communist nation as a sponsor of terrorism.

However, Washington has indefinitely postponed delisting Pyongyang, as it refuses to agree on a verification regime for its nuclear declaration.

The US handed over a draft verification protocol in the latest round of six-way talks in July, but the North has not yet responded.

Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0143 5 Sep 08.

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