News / Asia

Korean Nuclear Envoys to Meet in Beijing

The nuclear envoys of South and North Korea will meet in Beijing next week in another attempt to restart stalled negotiations on the North's nuclear program.  

A spokeswoman at the South Korean Foreign Ministry says Wi Sung-lac will travel to China for talks with North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho "in the middle of next week," without confirming an actual date.  

The two envoys held talks in July on sidelines of the ASEAN security conference in Bali, Indonesia - the first such talks between the two countries since the six-nation negotiations collapsed in December 2008.

Those discussions were followed by a round of talks between U.S. and North Korean officials in New York.

The United States and South Korea, along with China, Russia and Japan, have been negotiating with the impoverished North for eight years to get it to give up its nuclear weapons programs in exchange for food, energy and aid.  Pyongyang quit the talks in 2009 and later conducted its second nuclear test, as well as further testing of its ballistic missiles.  

During talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed a willingness to impose a moratorium on his country's nuclear program if the talks resume.

But Washington and Seoul have called for North Korea to abide by its past commitments to disarm before the talks restart.  

The negotiators are also concerned about Pyongyang's admission that it has a uranium enrichment program, which gives it another means to produce atomic weapons.

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