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(LEAD) N. Korea, U.S. to hold more nuclear talks in Geneva next week

All Headlines 15:46 October 17, 2011

(ATTN: ADDS details, NCAFP president's remarks in first three and last four paras, byline, photo)
By Kim Deok-hyun and Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- The president of an American foreign policy think tank has confirmed a second round of bilateral meeting will be held between North Korea and the United States to discuss the stalled six-nation talks on the North's nuclear weapons program.

George Schwab, president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP), confirmed that the second round of meetings between North Korea and the U.S. will be held in Geneva. NCAFP is an American non-partisan foreign policy think tank.

Schwab's confirmation tallies with that given earlier by a diplomatic source in Seoul.

"I have learned that a high-level dialogue between North Korea and the U.S. will be held in Geneva," the source told Yonhap News Agency on the condition of anonymity, adding that the two sides might meet on Oct. 26.

North Korean and U.S. officials held a preliminary discussion in New York in late July to gauge the possibility of resuming the six-party talks, which also involve South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.

Last month, the chief nuclear envoys from the two Koreas met for the second time to discuss the terms for resuming the multilateral forum, but no tangible progress was reported.

The six-party talks, aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programs in exchange for economic and political aid, have been dormant since Pyongyang left them in April 2009. The North then conducted its second nuclear test a month later.

Seoul and Washington have insisted that Pyongyang halt all nuclear activities, including its uranium enrichment program, and allow U.N. inspectors to monitor the suspension as preconditions to reopening the six-party talks. North Korea, however, is pushing to resume the forum without any conditions attached.

Amid cautious diplomatic jostling to revive the multilateral forum, President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama last week reaffirmed their united stance on the North's nuclear standoff: Pyongyang must first take concrete steps towards denuclearization before the six-party talks can resume.

In a separate interview with Yonhap on Monday, Schwab said the upcoming Geneva meetings were likely to produce some progress.

"This is why you will have the exploratory talks now in Geneva," Schwab said, declining to give a specific date for the meeting.

"In all likelihood, it may lead to a moratorium on the part of North Korea. That is the way that I've been led to understand," he said.

"The issue is will they permit inspectors to come in during the moratorium? I doubt it," Schwab said. "But, nevertheless, we want to explore possibilities."



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