Top Chinese, U.S. envoys meeting in Beijing to hold nuclear talks

The chief envoys for China and the United States to international nuclear talks on disarming North Korea were to meet Thursday in Beijing, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will discuss "promoting the six-party talks" which are aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions, Xinhua said without elaborating.

A spokeswoman with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing who spoke on customary condition of anonymity confirmed that the meeting had been scheduled, but did not have any details.

The six-party talks, which also include South Korea, Japan and Russia, have been stalled since November.

Negotiators have made no progress in implementing a September agreement in which the North pledged to give up its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

Pyongyang has refused to return to negotiations until Washington lifts financial restrictions it imposed on the communist nation for alleged illegal activity such as counterfeiting.

On Wednesday, Hill ruled out lifting the restrictions or providing incentives to draw North Korea back to the stalled talks.

"I hope they will see their way to attending," said Hill, while in Malaysia as part of a regional tour that will also take him to South Korea. "The North Koreans should understand that if they can implement the September agreement they will see that it is very advantageous to their country,"reports the AP.

I.L.