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Experts from S. Korea, U.S., China discuss ways to revive 6-party talks

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, July 22 (Yonhap) -- Foreign policy think tanks from South Korea, the United States and China held a joint meeting in Seoul on Monday as the three countries looked for ways to coordinate their policies on denuclearizing North Korea, Seoul officials said.

In the so-called "Track 1.5" meeting held in southern Seoul, researchers from the three countries focused on finding concerted ways to bring the North back to the negotiating table for denuclearization, according to the officials.

The experts all reasserted their countries' positions not to tolerate North Korea's possession of nuclear arms, but the U.S. and Chinese sides set forth different formulas for making the North give up its nuclear programs, the officials said.

The U.S. is seeking to put more pressure on the North as well as step up sanctions and efforts to open talks with the communist country, while China wants North Korea to have room for making its own decision to return to the negotiating table, the officials quoted the experts as saying.

The six-party talks, designed to persuade the North to discard its nuclear programs, ground to a halt in December 2008 after the North walked out of the dialogue in protest against the United Nations' condemnation of the North's banned rocket launch.

The North Korean regime, under new leader Kim Jong-un who took office in late 2011, has recently shown interest in reviving the multilateral dialogue that involves South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.

South Korea's Korea National Diplomatic Academy hosted the meeting with the Center for Strategic and International Studies from the U.S. and the China Institute of International Studies.

Lee Do-hoon, Seoul's deputy chief envoy to the six-party talks, joined the semi-governmental-level meeting, along with his counterparts -- Robert Rapson, the director for Korean affairs at the U.S. State Department and China's Minister Counselor Chen Hai.

The government officials did not present official stances there, but took the meeting as an opportunity to gather policy ideas, according to the officials.

"Through the recent summits among South Korea, the U.S. and China, they found a common ground in (viewing) the Korean Peninsula, the denuclearization issue and stability in Northeast Asia," Yun Duk-min, the head of the South Korean think tank, said in the opening remarks for the meeting. This cooperative momentum should be kept afloat, he added.

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