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Beijing to Host N. Korean Nuclear Talks This Month - 2003-08-14

China and South Korea have confirmed that six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear programs will take place in Beijing later this month.

The foreign ministries of South Korea and China confirmed Thursday what U.S. and Russian officials had said earlier this week: Beijing will host six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons programs from August 27 - 29.

The confirmation follows brisk diplomacy by all the nations involved. Beijing will play host to representatives from North Korea, South Korea, Russia, the United States, and Japan.

The talks aim to defuse tension over Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear weapons. The United States and its regional allies say they will not tolerate a nuclear armed North Korea. Pyongyang says it needs a nuclear arsenal to counter what it calls a "hostile policy" in the United States.

Pyongyang says only U.S. security guarantees and economic aid can bring an end to its nuclear programs. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is downplaying reports Washington has formulated specific economic proposals, although he says the Bush administration is "concerned for the welfare" of the North Korean people.