Fifth round of six-nation Korean nuclear talks opens in Beijing

The fifth round of the six-nation talks on the nuclear problem in the Korean peninsula is expected to open in Beijing on Wednesday. The deputy foreign ministers of Russia, China, both Koreas, the United States and Japan are taking part in the talks. Alexander Alekseyev leads the Russian delegation.

Earlier he said that Russia hopes the fifth would be as successful as the fourth one. He had no doubts that the talks would be difficult. He named as the key objective of the talks "practical steps to implement the principles of the joint statement adopted at the previous round."

A North Korean diplomatic source told Interfax that the fifth round will be held in two stages. During the first three-day stage, Wednesday through Friday, the sides will outline their approaches and later discuss them in greater detail in bilateral meetings. A pause is scheduled on Friday.

"During the pause, the sides will be able to thoroughly study the proposals, prepare the replies and draft programs that would meet their interests," the source said.

"Complex problems and contradictions that will emerge during the first stage may be discussed at the informal APEC summit in Pusan," the diplomat said.

The official said that at the coming talks Pyongyang will insist on a simultaneous approach - the renunciation of North Korean nuclear programs in exchange for a light water nuclear reactor.

"It is the principled stance of our side that actions related to the renunciation by North Korea of its nuclear programs and the provision of a light water reactor should be simultaneous, and it will insist on it at the fifth round of talks," the source said.

"The North Korean side wants corresponding guarantees of simultaneous practical steps, namely the renunciation of nuclear programs by North Korea, the provision of a nuclear reactor by other sides, the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States, energy and other economic assistance to North Korea," the source said.

"The stance is fully compatible with the provisions of the joint statement of all participants in the six-way negotiation process adopted at the pervious round, because it clearly defines the word-for-word, action-for-action formula," the source said.

"There can be no breakthrough or significant advancement at the fifth round. Nevertheless, Pyongyang believes that some progress can be achieved on practical matters at the second stage," the source added. However, progress will depend on the Untied States, "its practical actions, not simply declarations."

The source said Pyongyang accepts the American proposal on the formation of three working groups - on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, on the establishment of US-North Korean diplomatic relations and on the provision of North Korea with a nuclear reactor and economic assistance.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jiancao told a briefing in Beijing ahead of the talks that Alexeyev had met with the head of the Chinese delegation to the fifth round, Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei. Alexeyev and Wu exchanged opinions on the agenda of the fifth round. Liu said that Russia supports the efforts and role of China in organizing and hosting the six-nation talks. He said Russia and China have much in common in their approaches to the North Korean nuclear problem, reports Interfax China. I.L.

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