China worried over stalled North Korean nuclear talks
BEIJING: China admitted on Tuesday it was worried about the apparent stalling of six-party talks about North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and blamed the lack of trust between Pyongyang and Washington.
“From the current attitudes of the parties involved, there are major difficulties in the attempt to hold the meeting as scheduled,” foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan said at a regular briefing.
He blamed the “serious confrontation” and “the lack of trust” between North Korea and the United States for the impasse but said China had not given up hope that a solution could be found.
“It is a bumpy road, there have always been difficulties during the process but we have already overcome many problems and have made a lot of progress,” he said.
“We’re worried but we won’t abandon our efforts to push all parties to display pragmatism, restraint and flexibility in their efforts.” The last round of talks in Beijing, which also include South Korea, Japan and Russia, failed to make any clear progress other than an agreement to meet again by the end of September.
But North Korea has since hardened its position. It says the talks cannot resume unless nuclear experiments by South Korea are clarified and Washington changes its hostile policy. The nuclear stand-off flared in October 2002 when the United States accused North Korea of operating a nuclear weapons programmeme based on enriched uranium in violation of a 1994 agreement. Pyongyang has denied running the uranium-based programme but has restarted its plutonium programme.
Meanwhile, South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday for summit talks focusing on how to coax North Korea back to talks on dropping its nuclear arms programme.
Greeting Roh at the Kremlin, Putin disclosed that he and the South Korean leader already met for three hours over dinner late Monday at Putin’s country residence and discussed a range of issues. “Yesterday evening, we had the opportunity to discuss all issues that are sensitive for us,” Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying at the start of the talks Tuesday. He did not specify what those issues were. Roh said however that Russia had a key role to play in bringing stability to the Korean peninsula.
“Moscow may be located on the European continent, but Russia plays an important role in northeast Asia,” Roh said. “We thank Russia for this role in bringing peace and stability to the Korean peninsula.”
Putin said Russia and South Korea already had “very active” economic relations but added that he and Roh were also determined “to remove all complications, obstacles” that hinder development of bilateral trade ties. afp