Russia hopes for 'visible progress' in North Korea talks

Russia praised North Korea for its decision to return to talks on its nuclear program and said it hopes for significant progress.

"The Russian side welcomes this decision and expresses the hope that the upcoming meeting in Beijing will bring visible progress," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Last week another Foreign Ministry official, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev, said that Russia "fully expects a degree of progress and a step forward, compared to the agreements reached in previous meetings."

The six-party talks, which include Russia, China, the United States, Japan and South Korea, are to resume on July 26 in Beijing after a 13-month break due to North Korea's refusal to attend.

The talks started in August of 2003, three rounds were held, but last September North Korea refused to continue the talks because of "the U.S. hostility." This summer North Korea declared several times it would not need nuclear weapons if the U.S. didn’t threaten it.

Also North Korea said the it wouldn't need nuclear weapons if the United States treated it like a friend. The conciliatory gesture, after a year of deadlock in six-party talks on the North's nuclear program, have raised hope for a breakthrough, but Washington has played it down, saying Pyongyang was simply trying to buy time. Instead of "friendship" U.S. administration decided to provide 50,000 metric tons of food to North Korea in a humanitarian decision that the White House said was unrelated to stalemated efforts to get Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program.

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