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Fourth Round of N. Korea Disarmament Talks Open in Beijing

Senior diplomats from the United States, China, North and South Korea, Japan and Russia have resumed negotiations in Beijing aimed at disarming North Korea. The fourth round of talks opened with an upbeat mood after Pyongyang's 13-month boycott.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing formally opened the talks Tuesday after a 13-month hiatus.

He urged all sides to take a "flexible" and "pragmatic" attitude in the negotiations aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

U.S. envoy Christopher Hill used his opening statement to reaffirm respect for North Korea as a sovereign nation and repeated promises Washington had no intention of attacking the communist nation.

North Korea has maintained it needs either hard security guarantees or a nuclear deterrent against possible U.S. military action

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan stated that his country is now interested in actual progress toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Ahead of the talks here, diplomats from all countries have stressed that progress must be achieved in these negotiations for them to be credible. Three previous rounds since 2003 have achieved little in convincing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs.

United States and its allies last year offered energy aid and possible security pledges to the impoverished North in exchange for complete and verifiable disarmament. That offer remains on the table. In addition, earlier this month, South Korea proposed to supply all of the North electricity needs in exchange for disarmament. The offer appeared to prompt Pyongyang to return to the talks.

None of the officials here expect a final settlement but say they have set no end date for these talks to maximize the chance of progress.