| Six-party talks moving to a possible agreement |
|Feb. 10 - Envoys to the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue on Friday were examining a Chinese draft document that could see them take the first steps towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
"The Chinese delegation circulated a draft, but we haven't had much discussion yet....it's a process that begins with discussion and moves to the written form," said chief U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill.
"We will have bilateral meetings with all the other parties to discuss the draft. It will be a long day," said Hill.
Hill also indicated that the talks would establish "four to six" working groups to deal with the denuclearization process.
The talks entered the second day Friday, with negotiators combing through the draft looking for a possible agreement. The draft was circulated to the delegates last night.
Reports said the draft agreement proposed stopping within two months work at nuclear sites in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), including the Yongbyon reactor, and supplying Pyongyang with alternative energy sources.
"The parties will start discussing the draft today," said chief Republic of Korea (ROK) negotiator Chun Yung Woo, saying the draft lays a "not bad" basis for the nuclear talks.
Chun said the draft is more specific than the broad 2005 joint statement, but warned it's still hard to say whether the talks will go ahead successfully.
Japanese negotiator Kenichiro Sasae also implied that there are still different opinions about the draft.
"China has its views while Japan has its own stance," Sasae told reporter.
China will coordinate positions advanced by the other parties and the Japanese side will try its best to help strike a deal based on the Chinese proposal, said Sasae.
After a two-hour chief delegates meeting and several rounds of consultations, Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo held a banquet for the six top negotiators at the Diaoyutai Guest House.
Im Sung Nam, an official from the ROK delegation, said the parties have reached consensus on parts of the draft, and some parts are still under discussion.
The six parties "have achieved consensus to a certain extent", Im said at a ROK press conference Friday evening.
He said Friday's consultation was sincere and pragmatic. The ROK and Chinese chief delegates had bilateral consultations in the afternoon. The ROK and DPRK chief delegates had a 30-minute talk. The ROK and U.S. top delegates are also maintaining contact.
However, another ROK official was more cautious about the prospects, saying anonymously that the consultations are more difficult than expected, and all sides still need to bring out wisdom and make efforts.
After a 48-day recess, the negotiators gathered again in Beijing, focusing on the first steps to implement the statement, according to which the DPRK agrees to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.
The DPRK envoy Kim Kye-Gwan, after arriving in Beijing Thursday, said "we are prepared to discuss initial denuclearization steps... We are neither optimistic nor pessimistic because there are still a lot of problems to be resolved."
China, host to the six-party talks since they began in 2003, has raised expectations about making progress on the joint statement.
"I hope the meeting will be a good beginning for implementing the joint statement, and a new starting point in the process of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," said chief Chinese negotiator Wu Dawei at the opening ceremony on Thursday.