April 13, 2011 09:58
South Korea is likely to accept a proposal from China for a three-stage process to revive the stalled six-party talks that would start with an inter-Korean meeting between chief nuclear negotiators as a lead up to North Korea-U.S. talks and the resumption of six-party talks. A government official on Tuesday said Seoul is "always open to dialogue."
Wu Dawei, China's special representative on Korean affairs, made the proposal after he met chief North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Kye-gwan in Beijing earlier this month.
If the meeting happens, it would be the first such meeting since the Lee Myung-bak administration was inaugurated two years ago.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-je told reporters, "We have persistently called for inter-Korean talks to address denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, so it would be very encouraging if the North agrees to these talks."
He added the North must show it is sincerely determined to abandon its nuclear program if the stalled six-party talks are to resume.
"There's no change in our position that inter-Korean relations will improve in a genuine way and aid can resume only if the North admits its attacks on the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island and apologizes for them."
But Seoul is apparently minded to deal separately with the nuclear issue in the framework of the six-party talks.
South Korean chief nuclear negotiator Wi Sung-lac was in Washington on Tuesday, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Seoul on Saturday, allowing Seoul to continue in-depth discussions with Washington on the possibility of the meeting with the North.
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