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Crucial talks on peninsula

07-25-2011 09:21 BJT

NUSA DUA, Indonesia - The nuclear envoys of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) held cordial talks in Indonesia on Friday and said they would work to resume the stalled Six-Party Talks for nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula.

The meeting, which lasted about two hours, was the first high-level contact between the two sides since the last round of the talks in 2008 and a step forward in the diplomatic effort to resume negotiations.

The United States and Japan, also participants in the Six-Party Talks, have said the DPRK and ROK must establish some rapport before those talks can resume.

"We agreed to continue to make joint efforts in the process of negotiations for denuclearization," ROK nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac told reporters at an Asian security conference on the island of Bali.

"We agreed to make joint efforts to set conditions to resume the Six-Party Talks as soon as possible. I had very constructive and useful conversations with my counterpart."

Ri Yong-ho, the DPRK's vice-foreign minister handling nuclear diplomacy, was smiling as he said: "(We) met as part of efforts to resume Six-Party Talks as soon as possible."

The ROK, the United States and China, which hosts the nuclear disarmament forums, have agreed on a three-stage process for envoys from Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington to meet first before the negotiations can resume.

The DPRK walked away from the talks more than two years ago, but last year called for a return to dialogue.

A US official in Bali, who did not want to be quoted by name, said earlier it was the "most consequential" meeting between the two sides in some time.

"It will take some time to understand and fully digest what has gone on between the two parties."

Japan said renewed talks were important for the region.

Satoru Satoh, a spokesman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry, told reporters the international community needed to remain engaged with Pyongyang but added: "Dialogue should move forward before the Six-Party Talks."

"We are not satisfied with dialogue for the sake of dialogue," he added. "There should be progress."

Tensions rose to the highest level in years when an ROK navy ship was sunk last year in a torpedo attack, killing 46 sailors. The ROK blamed the DPRK for the incident, but Pyongyang denied any role.

The ROK has demanded some expression of regret from Pyongyang about the attacks as indication that the DPRK is serious about reducing tensions and working to bring stability to the Korean Peninsula.

The DPRK's two nuclear tests in the past five years rattled the region. The tests triggered international sanctions against Pyongyang.

Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: China Daily

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