North, South Korean Envoys Open Nuclear Talks in Beijing

Posted September 21st, 2011 at 1:13 am (UTC-5)
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Nuclear negotiators from North and South Korea sat down in China's capital Wednesday for their second round of talks in two months.

South Korean envoy Wi Sung-lac and North Korea's Ri Yong Ho met at a private club in central Beijing to discuss terms for a resumption of six-nation talks on the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear programs.

South Korean officials said Tuesday that Wi is seeking a promise from North Korea that it will meet the South's conditions for restarting the talks. South Korea and the United States have insisted that Pyongyang show it is serious by fulfilling past commitments to disarm.

North Korea, which walked away from the talks in 2009, has been pressing, with China's backing, for the talks to be re-started without conditions.

Japan and Russia round out the six nations involved in the talks, which would offer North Korea economic and diplomatic benefits in exchange for dismantling its nuclear programs.

Russia announced after a recent summit in Siberia that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has offered to impose a moratorium on the nuclear programs if the talks resume.

However, U.S. and South Korean officials said the offer was inadequate. Among other things, they want a halt to a uranium enrichment program revealed by North Korea last year.

The two negotiators for North and South Korea met in July in Indonesia for the first time in more than two years. The talks accompany a recent easing of tensions between the countries after two military attacks by the North that killed 50 South Koreans last year.