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US nuke negotiator to arrive in China for talks

The chief US negotiator to the six-party North Korean nuclear talks, Christopher Hill, was due to arrive in Beijing on Thursday.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2006 10:17 IST

The chief US negotiator to the six-party North Korean nuclear talks, Christopher Hill, was due to arrivein Beijingon Thursday for talks with his Chinese counterpart, the US embassy said.

"In Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing, Secretary Hill will meet his counterparts on the six-party talks to discuss those talks and other matters of mutual concern," an embassy spokeswoman said.

Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, met his Japanese counterpart, Kenichiro Sasae, in Tokyo on Wednesday and was scheduled to meet South Korea's Song Min-Soon in Seoul on Thursday morning.

China's delegation for the six-party talks is led by Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei.

Hill's visit to Beijing, expected to last less than a day, comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is reportedly in China on a clandestine trip.

The US embassy declined to comment on whether Hill was to meet with any North Korean officials.

Six-party talks, aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear arms programs, opened in 2003 and are currently stalled over Pyongyang's demand that the United States lifts financial sanctions before a new round can take place.

Hill agreed with Sasae on Wednesday to work for an early resumption of the talks despite North Korean resistance.

The United States has stood by the sanctions and refused to allow the issue to be drawn into the talks, which include China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Russia.

Hill and Sasae also agreed that a "greater effort" on China's part would be important to help resume the negotiations.

North Korea has insisted since the last round in November that it would boycott further negotiations unless the sanctions, imposed by the United States for alleged counterfeiting and money laundering, are lifted.

The sanctions were imposed in September after Washington said Pyongyang was manufacturing counterfeit US dollar notes and using a Macau bank as a front for money laundering.

In October, US officials blacklisted eight North Korean companies in connection with weapons proliferation.

Hill's visit to Beijing is part of a wider Asian tour, which will also take him to Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia for talks on bilateral issues, the US embassy said.

First Published: Jan 12, 2006 10:17 IST