Time needed to resume six-party talks on N.K. nukes: official

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- The six nations involved in the long-stalled dialogue to denuclearize North Korea may need some time to resume the disarmament talks due to differences in the terms for their resumption, a government official said Friday.

"I would say it may take some time as the countries continue to narrow their differences on the preconditions for resumption," the high-ranking government official said on condition of anonymity.

"All parties share the idea that the talks, when re-opened, should contribute to (the goal of) denuclearizing North Korea, but they still need to coordinate their opinions on how to do it," the official said.

The parties are currently fine-tuning their differences and details are being discussed, he said.

"Such coordination efforts will continue and (that's why) they need time," the official said.

The official's remarks come as moves by South Korea, the United States and China to speed up the process to resume dialogue are fueling hopes for the resumption of the six-party forum on ending North Korea's nuclear program, deemed as one of the biggest security threats in the Asian region.

Launched in 2003, the six-way forum has been suspended since late 2008 as North Korea continued to pursue nuclear weapons development in defiance of its disarmament promises made during the dialogue.

The North conducted its third nuclear test last February, leading the other members of the forum to renew efforts to persuade the North to discard its nuclear weapons program through the dialogue process involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.

Intelligence and military officials said that through the latest nuclear bomb test, the North may have completed its development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

As part of the dialogue resumption efforts, Cho Tae-yong, South Korea's top negotiator on the North Korean nuclear issue, paid a two-day visit to Beijing earlier this week to hold discussions with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei.

During the latest Seoul-Beijing meeting, the officials are believed to have discussed how to mediate differing terms for the resumption, mainly between the U.S. and North Korea.

The U.S. has demanded the North take tangible steps of commitment toward denuclearization first, in order to renew the aid-for-disarmament dialogue. The North, however, has made an outcry over the demand.

One of the major two pillars in South Korea's stance is that the countries should secure a measure to prevent further advancement of the North's nuclear program while the disarmament talks are taking place, the official said.

The other is that the talks, if reopened, should generate tangible results toward the agreed upon goal of denuclearizing the North, he said.

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