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Beijing hopes results in N. Korean nuke talks

A senior Chinese official expressed hope that upcoming multilateral talks would produce "tangible" progress toward defusing the stand-off over North Korea's nuclear programme.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2004 15:30 IST

Asenior Chinese official expressed hope that upcoming multilateral talks would produce "tangible" progress toward defusing the stand-off over North Korea's nuclear programme.

Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is to chair the six-way talks in Beijing beginning on February 25 to resolve the nuclear crisis, also called for patience in pursuing a peaceful resolution of the crisis through dialogue.

"Following six months of preparation, the conditions are ripe for holding the six-nation talks," Wang said after talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-Hyuck in Seoul.

"China hopes that the participants hold substantial talks to produce tangible results," he said.

The United States is seeking verifiable pledges from North Korea to eliminate not only its plutonium reprocessing programme but a highly-enriched uranium programme that Washington claims Pyongyang is developing.

North Korea denies the existence of any uranium enrichment programme.

It has offered to freeze its plutonium reprocessing -- which had been mothballed under a 1994 deal before the crisis was rekindled in October 2002 -- in return for economic gains.

It said it was willing to move on to further talks on removing its nuclear programmes entirely. The first round of six-nation talks in August last year in Beijing produced little results.

Wang called for joint efforts by South Korea and the host, China, to ensure that the meeting is a success.

"China has a firm position that all the countries concerned must be persistent in pursuing a peaceful resolution of the issue, no matter what difficulties lie ahead," he said.

Wang, who is China's pointman on North Korea, arrived from Tokyo for a three-day visit for talks with South Korean officials ahead of the nuclear crisis talks.

First Published: Feb 17, 2004 00:00 IST