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Prospects for Resumption of North Korea Nuclear Talks Remain Uncertain


U.S. and Chinese officials say prospects for the resumption of multi-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programs remain uncertain. Special U.S. Envoy Christopher Hill met with Chinese officials in Beijing.

Christopher Hill arrives in Beijing
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill arrived in the Chinese capital and went straight into meetings with Chinese officials to discuss how to bring North Korea back to the negotiations.

The talks, which also include Japan, South Korea, and Russia, have been stalled since last year, when North Korea refused to attend a fourth round in September.

Upon his arrival in Beijing after meetings in South Korea, Mr. Hill said it was still not clear whether the talks are any closer to restarting.

"We have got five countries that are there, and one that continues to stay away," he said. "As soon as we get the North Koreans to the talks, we look forward to a very vigorous negotiation."

Mr. Hill met with officials including Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, as part of a new effort by Washington to get China - North Korea's closest ally - to do more to bring the North Koreans back to the negotiating table.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters that China remains committed to making the six-party process work. Mr. Qin said China's wish is that all parties resume talks as soon as possible, and do more to contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

The latest discussions among the United States and its partners in the talks come after North Korea shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor. Analysts say that would allow the reclusive Communist state to extract plutonium from the reactor's fuel rods - giving it additional fuel with which to build nuclear weapons.

Mr. Hill heads to Tokyo on Wednesday.