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Delegates Gather for 6-Way Talks on N. Korea's Nuclear Program


Representatives from five countries are arriving in Beijing ahead of talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis. The meeting is aimed at persuading Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program.

In Beijing Monday, the head of the Russian delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, said he is "discreetly optimistic" about this week's talks. He made the comments after arriving for the three-day meeting, which begins on Wednesday.

Delegates from the United States, South Korea and Japan were also scheduled to arrive Monday. Officials from these three countries were expected to meet Tuesday ahead of the formal discussions.

The North Korean delegation was due to arrive in Beijing Tuesday.

As a major supplier of food and fuel to the isolated North Korea, host nation China is seen as one of the few countries with any ability to influence Pyongyang.

The North Korean nuclear crisis erupted in October, when Pyongyang admitted having a secret nuclear weapons program, in violation of several international accords.

Beijing has since been engaged in months of active diplomacy to bring all of the parties together.

Writer and political commentator Dai Qing says Chinese intellectuals do not want their government to automatically support North Korea, because it could hurt China.

She points to China's strong support for North Korea in the Korean War in the early 1950s. The country's leader then, Mao Zedong, joined Pyongyang to fight against U.S. and U.N. troops. "We just want to warn him, don't do the same thing, just like Mao Zedong did," she said. "We got the big lessons from the North Korea war, biggest lessons in the new China."

During the 1950 to 1953 Korean War, China lost an estimated one million soldiers.

The United States wants North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang has repeatedly demanded that Washington first agree to a formal non-aggression pact and normalize diplomatic relations.

Analysts say they do not expect concrete results from this week's talks, but that it will at least provide all sides with an opportunity to present their positions.

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