|Bosworth, the head of the US delegation in Geneva, says there has been “some progress” in the talks [AFP]|
The US’s chief negotiator with North Korea says he is confident Pyongyang will resume full negotiations over its nuclear programme following two days of talks in Switzerland.
“It has been a very useful meeting,” Stephen Bosworth told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.
“The tone was positive and generally constructive,” he added. “I am confident that with continued effort on both sides we can reach a reasonable basis of departure for formal negotiations for a return to the six-party process.”
The US and North Korea held bilateral talks in New York in late July, the first since six-party talks collapsed in 2009 after the UN censured Pyongyang over a long-range missile test.
South Korea, Japan, Russia and China make up the other parties involved in the talks.
Bosworth was accompanied by Glyn Davies, the outgoing US ambassador to the UN nuclear watchdog agency who has been named his successor, in the Geneva talks with North Korean first vice foreign minister Kim Kye-gwan.
Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, told Li Keqiang, the Chinese vice-prime minister, that a moribund 2005 deal should be the basis for new talks about Pyongyang’s nuclear activity, Chinese state media reports said on Tuesday.
“Kim said North Korea hopes the six-party talks should be restarted as soon as possible,” said the Xinhua news agency report on Tuesday of the meeting between Kim and Li in North Korea on Monday night.
But the reports left unanswered a key question on uranium enrichment, a possible pathway to nuclear weapons.
The US and South Korea insist that North Korea must immediately halt its uranium enrichment work as a precursor to restarting the talks, which offer economic aid in return for denuclearisation.
North Korea’s uranium enrichment programme, which opens a second route to developing nuclear weapons along with its plutonium programme, is not specifically referred to in the 2005 pact.
North Korea says that it is enriching uranium only for power generation and argues that the 2005 agreement respects its right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.