The three-day meeting in the North Korean capital aims to flesh out an earlier pact signed last month at an historic North-South summit aimed at fostering peace and co-operation on the peninsula.

 

The talks come as Christopher Hill, the chief US nuclear negotiator, embarks on a tour on Tuesday of Asian capitals ahead of a fresh round of six-nation talks in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear programme.

 

Asian tour

 

Hill will be touring Asia ahead of six-party
talks early next month [AFP]
Sean McCormack, a US State Department spokesman, said Hill is scheduled to visit South Korea, Japan and China to prepare for disarmament talks, but gave no details.

 

He said Hill was confident of having "something final from the North Koreans closer to the end of the year" - the deadline for total disablement.


"It's important that this declaration be full, that it be complete and that it reassure all of the other five parties that North Korea is being completing forthcoming with the declaration."

 

Last Friday Alexander Losyukov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying that experts will present a progress report ahead of the six-nation talks.

 

Losyukov said the talks in Beijing from December 6 to 8 may be held at the foreign ministers level.

 

Inspection

 

Meanwhile, China has said that representatives from the six nations involved in the nuclear talks will be at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex this week to inspect the shutdown process.

 

In a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry's website on Monday spokesman Qin Gang said the inspection team would be observing ongoing disablement activities until Thursday.

 

North and South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia reached an agreement in early October in which Pyongyang promised to disable its main nuclear reactor by the end of the year in exchange for economic aid and political concessions.

 

US nuclear experts have been in North Korea since early this month to help monitor the disablement process.