China is making a final bid to salvage the stalled six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear weapons standoff. Chinese officials Wednesday offered a fourth draft of a proposed draft joint statement of principles, as some delegates admitted the talks may end without agreement.
After eight days of negotiations, the delegates say the talks have reached a critical juncture.
The Chinese have submitted a new proposed joint statement, but a number of delegates say North Korea and the other five participants are still too far apart to reach an agreement.
Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. envoy to the talks, told reporters Wednesday the latest draft statement should be the final one, and negotiations to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs were drawing to a close.
"It's a text that's really designed to narrow the differences, and maybe even get to the point where we can agree on something," he said. "I think everyone knows where the red lines are. It should be the final text."
Mr. Hill said that if the impasse continues, the delegates should consider ending the talks and heading home for consultations.
The negotiations, which include North and South Korea, the United States, Russia, Japan and China, are aimed at persuading Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons.
But so far delegates say the North Koreans have refused to compromise, and have presented a growing list of demands.
Mr. Hill said Wednesday the latest joint statement prepared by the Chinese offers the North Koreans "a very good deal," and he said Pyongyang has to make up its mind.
"They can look forward to a brighter future, they can look forward to a more secure future, a more prosperous future - but they can't do it with nuclear weapons. They have got to get off that," he said.
North Korea has reportedly said that if no agreement is reached Wednesday, the talks could be considered a failure.