Tuesday, April 05, 2005

North Koreans In China For Nuclear Talks

A senior North Korean official is in China for talks with the country's officials over the stalled six-way talks on North Korea's nuclear programs, diplomatic sources said late Sunday. While one of the sources said the official, who apparently arrived Saturday, was First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju, who is in charge of the nuclear issue, another source said it was Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, Pyongyang's chief negotiator for the six-way talks. South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said the visiting official was Kang, and that he met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei and Chinese Ambassador on Korean Peninsula Affairs Ning Fukui. Kang was being accompanied by four other officials, Yonhap said, adding that it was unclear whether Kang's entourage includes Kim. The trip is the second high-level visit from North Korea following that by Premier Pak Pong Ju, who visited China on March 22-27. Six countries -- China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States -- met for three rounds of talks since August 2003. But a fourth round failed to take place in late September after Pyongyang refused to attend, citing the United States' ''hostile'' attitude against North Korea. China has been working to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.
Washington believes that North Korea may have two crude nuclear devices. Experts say it may have reprocessed enough plutonium for half a dozen more since the standoff erupted and it kicked out international monitors and pulled out of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.