New round of six-party nuke talks under way
BEIJING – The United States and China both expressed determination Tuesday to make long-awaited headway toward a settlement in six-nation talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.Washington also assured North Korea it has no intention of attacking, and Pyongyang promised to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, opening moves that also indicated a shared goal of progress.The latest round of talks resumed in Beijing, the closest ally of the isolated, communist North, after a 13-month boycott by North Korea, which had cited “hostile” U.S. policies. Delegates struck an amiable note before the meeting, smiling and clasping hands for a group photo. The other participants are South Korea, Japan and Russia.The chief U.S. and North Korean envoys seemed especially determined to move ahead after three earlier rounds of talks produced no breakthroughs. The two men held a one-on-one meeting Tuesday – their second in as many days, and a departure from Washington’s previous refusal to have direct contact with the North.”These talks are at a critical juncture,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said at the opening ceremony. “We do not have the option of walking away from this problem.”His North Korean counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, said, “The fundamental thing is to make real progress in realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.””This requires very firm political will and a strategic decision of the parties concerned that have interests in ending the threat of nuclear war,” Kim said. “We are fully ready and prepared for that.”Hill directly addressed one of the North’s main sticking points, assuring Pyongyang that Washington recognized its sovereignty and would not attack to end the standoff.