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Substantial Progress Expected in Nuclear Talks with North Korea

Delegations have been arriving in the Chinese capital for this week's negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. North and South Korean negotiators met Sunday, and a spokesman says both sides hope for substantial progress in the six-nation talks. The head of the U.S. delegation is cautioning that this week's talks will not be the last.

The chief U.S. negotiator, Christopher Hill, told reporters after he arrived in Beijing the United States is committed to making what he called "real progress" during this week's talks.

However, Mr. Hill warned that there was much work to be done, and he cautioned against expecting a final agreement from this round of negotiations.

"I wouldn't expect this to be the last set of negotiations," he said. "The negotiations have been in suspension for over a year. So, we have to see where we go with these. We would like to make some measurable progress - progress we can build on for a subsequent set of negotiations."

The North and South Korean delegations to the talks met in Beijing for nearly two hours Sunday morning in advance of the full six-party talks, which officially get under way on Tuesday.

A spokesman said both Korean delegations were hoping for substantial progress in this week's talks. Few other details of Sunday's meeting were released.

It has been over a year since North Korea backed out of the six-nation talks, blaming what it called a "hostile attitude" by the United States. North Korea agreed to return to talks earlier this month.

In addition to the two Koreas and the United States, the talks include China, Japan and Russia. The three previous rounds of talks stalled without any significant progress toward the goal of an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

When Mr. Hill was asked Sunday what expectations the United States had for success, he said that was hard to say until all six delegations sat down to negotiate.

"We're going to work very hard and we're very committed to seeing if we can make some very serious progress here," added Mr. Hill.

Mr. Hill said he did not know how long this round of negotiations would take, but he joked with reporters that he had packed extra shirts, indicating he is prepared to be in Beijing for some time.