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N. Korean nuclear talks to resume soon: Seoul minister

All Headlines 17:39 February 17, 2010

By Tony Chang

SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Yonhap) -- Multilateral talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programs are expected resume soon, Seoul's top diplomat said Wednesday, citing recent high-level meetings and exchanges between North Korea and China.

"I can't specify a date but (the six-party talks) will open in the near future," Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told members of the parliament's foreign affairs committee at the National Assembly.

The six-party talks, which group the divided Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S., have not been held since late 2008 because of a North Korean boycott. The North, however, has recently taken conciliatory gestures toward its rivals and signaled a willingness to rejoin the six-party aid-for-denuclearization talks.

Wang Jiarui, head of the international department of the Communist Party of China, visited Pyongyang last week to help resume the six-party nuclear talks. North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye-gwan, also recently traveled to Beijing, raising speculation about the resumption of the stalled nuclear talks.

"It is a fact that there are movements (towards reaching a deal to reopen the talks) considering various circumstances," Yu said, citing the recent high-level exchanges between China and North Korea.

"I have no doubt on the talks' resumption as it is in line with North Korea's own interest," the minister said.

North Korea's nuclear negotiator is expected to visit the U.S. next month following a trip to Pyongyang in December by Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special envoy on North Korean affairs.

North Korea says that talks aimed at replacing the 1950-53 Korean War truce with a peace treaty should be launched and U.N. sanctions must be lifted if it is to rejoin the stalled six-party dialogue.


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