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Seoul envoy to talks: ‘China wants progress’

Aug 27,2003
BEIJING ― The head of South Korea’s delegation to the talks here on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions said last night that on the eve of the negotiations China expressed hope that progress could be made to end the crisis.
Lee Soo-hyuck of South Korea, following a dinner at which delegations to the six-party talks gathered, quoted Wang Yi, China’s head delegate, as saying, “We should not let this opportunity slip away.”
The two Koreas, China, Japan, the United States and Russia begin three days of discussions today hoping to defuse the standoff over North Korea’s clandestine nuclear arms development program.
The meeting is the second attempt to resolve the crisis. In April the Beijing mediated talks involving the U.S. and North Korean delegates.
North Korea’s delegation arrived in Beijing yesterday morning, and held separate discussions with allies, China and Russia. Pyeongyang’s chief delegate, Kim Yong-il, briefly stopped by at the North Korean Embassy after his arrival and headed directly to China’s Foreign Ministry.
Though the North Koreans remained silent yesterday, Mr. Kim gestured enthusiastically for photographers.
Until recently, North Korea’s state-run media have said Pyeongyang was willing to dismantle its nuclear program, if the United States gave up its hostility toward the North. Diplomatic sources in Beijing believe that Mr. Kim will maintain the stance during the current negotiations.
Delegates from Seoul, Washington and Tokyo met yesterday at the Korean Embassy to coordinate policies. South Koreans also met with Russians and Chinese bilaterally.
The North dispatched 13 delegates. Its chief negotiator Kim is a China expert and its deputy head of the delegation Ri Gun is deputy director-general of American affairs for the North’s Foreign Ministry.


by Special Reporting Team


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