N Korea envoys gather in Beijing
Meeting aims to lay ground for fresh talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme.
In October, in defiance of international pressure, North Korea went ahead with its first nuclear weapon test saying it had effectively been forced into a corner by the US.
Days later however, it announced that it was prepared to revive the six-party talks on its nuclear programme.
There has been speculation that the apparent about face was the result of massive pressure from China, a key donor to North Korea and the closest thing it has to an ally.
On Monday Chun Yung-woo, the South Korean envoy to the meetings, told reporters that ensuring the right procedures for the talks was more important than determining when to restart negotiations.
“We will mainly focus on the procedure of the talks as it is essential to accomplish substantial progress rather than talking just for the sake of talking,” he said.
Talks ‘any time’
For his part Kim Kye Gwan, the North Korean envoy, said the timing of the next round of talks would depend on the United States.
“I said on October 31 that we can enter the talks at any time,” he said shortly after his arrival in Beijing,
“I said that because we can do that from a dignified position as we have taken defensive measures through our nuclear test to counter sanctions and pressure against us.”
Kim’s arrival in the Chinese capital has raised speculation that he may hold an informal meeting with Christopher Hill, the chief US envoy to the talks.
On Monday the US State Department said a meeting between Kim and Hill was “an open possibility”.
Hill himself has said he is optimistic about the outcome of the current dialogue.
“The issue for us is to make sure we are extremely well-planned and ready for the six-party talks, which we do anticipate will get going at some point very soon,” he said.