SKorea nuclear envoy arrives in Beijing

AP News
Posted: Sep 20, 2011 2:23 AM
SKorea nuclear envoy arrives in Beijing

South Korea's nuclear envoy arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for talks with his counterpart from North Korea on Pyongyang's nuclear arms plans.

Wi Sung-lac told reporters at the Beijing airport that he planned to discuss steps toward denuclearization in his meeting with North Korea's Ri Yong Ho.

The two will sit down Wednesday. They are trying to hash out issues between the Koreas in an attempt to restart long-stalled six-nation talks on nuclear disarmament in North Korea.

"We plan to talk about the achievement of denuclearization, and discuss the issues that were brought up from the first round of talks," Wi said.

The envoys met two months ago in Indonesia for the first time in more than two years, raising hopes that the six-party talks _ which include China, the United States, Japan and Russia _ will resume soon.

North Korea abruptly walked out of the nuclear negotiations in 2009 but in recent months the impoverished country has repeatedly expressed its willingness to rejoin the talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear weapons program in return for international aid and other concessions.

A major sticking point has been South Korea's desire for North Korea to demonstrate it was sincere about disarmament and take responsibility for two deadly attacks last year.

Last year, North Korea shelled a South Korean front-line island, killing four, and allegedly torpedoed a South Korean warship, killing 46.

"And if there are other issues to be discussed, we will also talk about them," Wi said.

During a visit to Russia last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il reportedly suggested the North could be open to halting nuclear production and testing if the six-party talks resume.

U.S. officials have been wary of the North's overtures, saying it must first abide by commitments it made in earlier rounds of the talks.