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Seoul to send working-level officials to six-way meeting proposed by China

2013/09/16 18:05

SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will dispatch working-level government officials to a China-proposed six-nation meeting aimed at denuclearizing North Korea, the foreign ministry said Monday.

A minister counselor from the South Korean Embassy in China will attend the meeting set for Wednesday in Beijing, along with a director-level official from the headquarters in Seoul, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The dispatch of the working-level officials indicate Seoul's reservations about China's accelerating efforts to secure a quick resumption of the long-stalled six-party talks designed to persuade the North to discard its nuclear programs.

Stepping up efforts to revive the multilateral talks, China proposed a meeting of senior government officials and scholars from the six member countries for Wednesday in Beijing to discuss the reopening of the six-way negotiations, and is now reportedly planning to send Wu Dawei, Beijing's point man on Korean issues, to the meeting.

North Korea will reportedly dispatch its top nuclear envoy Ri Yong-ho.

South Korea has been skeptical about resuming the dialogue that involves the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, saying that it will first have to verify the North's seriousness about denuclearization before sitting down for disarmament talks.

The U.S. has also expressed reservations about the North's intention to disarm, with Glyn Davies, the top negotiator for the six-party talks, saying in Seoul last week, "I don't think it's yet time for the heads of the delegation of the six-party process to get together." The U.S. will reportedly dispatch scholars only to the informal meeting.

The six-nation dialogue, after being launched in 2003, has been stalled since late 2008 after the North quit the talks, and opted to continue its missile and nuclear tests.

Recent satellite imagery suggested that the North may have started its 5-megawatt plutonium reactor in its Yongbyon nuclear complex, a sign that further raises questions about the North's intention to dispose of its nuclear programs.