Discussions on six-party talks continue in Beijing, Washington

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Discussions on six-party talks continue in Beijing, Washington

Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Seoul, South Korea’s top envoy to the six-party talks, Hwang Joon-kook, convened talks with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing to coordinate getting back to the negotiating table to discuss North Korean denuclearization. Hwang, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, arrived in Beijing yesterday for talks with China’s Wu Dawei, its special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs.

“Until now, we have strictly adhered to pressuring North Korea through a system of international cooperation and are considering various methods in order to resume meaningful denuclearization talks,” said Hwang at the airport upon arriving in Beijing. “Various negotiations centered around the three countries - South Korea, U.S. and China - are underway, and we will continue to strengthen cooperation between the five-party nations including Japan and Russia.”

Meaningful dialogue with North Korea means talks that must produce “some practical progress in denuclearizing North Korea,” said Hwang, and prevent it from advancing its nuclear capability.

The two-day bilateral talks in Beijing are a follow up on Hwang’s discussions with U.S. top envoy to the six-party talks Glyn Davies, special representative for North Korea policy, on June 2 in Washington. Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se also met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month in Seoul to plan for the upcoming summit between President Xi and President Park Geun-hye in Seoul and to discuss North Korea issues.

Junichi Ihara, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, was also scheduled to meet with Davies and brief him about Japan’s North Korea policy in a meeting on Tuesday in Washington.

This meeting follows a breakthrough agreement last month between Tokyo and Pyongyang to reopen an investigation into missing Japanese nationals abducted to North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s. Japan, in return, agreed to lift some of its unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang once the investigation is under way, raising some concern from analysts that this may dampen international cooperation on the North Korea denuclearization process.

Russia and North Korea have been bolstering trade ties recently ahead of the opening of a railway between the two countries in September. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev visited Pyongyang in April, and President Vladimir Putin in early May signed a law forgiving 90 percent of North Korea’s debt to Moscow from the Soviet era, while the remaining debt of about $1 billion is to be repaid within the next four decades, interest-free.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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