South Korea optimistic on North Korean nuclear talks

South Korean officials expressed optimism about progress at a next round of nuclear disarmament talks on North Korea over its demand to retain nuclear power plants for electricity.

Six-nation talks on dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program broke off on August 7 after Washington rejected Pyongyang's demand for the right to peaceful nuclear activities.

The talks, which involve the two Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan, are due to reopen in Beijing next week.

"There is a room for both sides to reach a compromise on the right to peaceful nuclear activities," South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-Young said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Ttalks stalled last month after North Korea insisted on retaining a peaceful nuclear program to produce power. U.S. officials are concerned North Korea may convert a civilian nuclear program to military use and build nuclear weapons. North Korea said on Feb. 10 it had nuclear weapons and planned to build more.

The U.S., South Korea, China, Japan and Russia are trying to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs in return for security guarantees, food, energy and economic aid. A fourth round of talks ended in recess on Aug. 7 after 13 days of negotiations failed to yield an agreement on a set of principals for future discussions.

“As for progress, that is going to be up to all the six parties and their willingness to roll up their sleeves and to engage in a constructive manner in a negotiating process that leads to, at this point, a statement of principles,” McCormack said, according to the transcript.

China Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang yesterday declined to comment on his country's position on North Korea's civilian use of nuclear energy.

“I emphasize the six-party process is discussion among six parties,” Qin said in a press briefing in Beijing. “It requires six parties to agree,” informs Bloomberg.

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