The stalled six-party talks on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear program are likely to restart next month, the chief US negotiator to the diplomatic process said here Tuesday after talks with Chinese officials.
"I believe we will have the six-party talks probably in the middle of December," US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters here before flying back to Washington.
Hill spoke to reporters after meeting with his Chinese counterpart to the six-nation forum, vice foreign minister Wu Dawei, for more than four hours in Beijing.
"I came up to talk with my counterpart about the preparations for the six-party talks and see how we'd like to proceed and we had very good discussions on that," Hill said.
The six-nation talks, first launched in 2003 in an effort to persuade DPRK to abandon its nuclear ambitions, broke down a year ago when Pyongyang walked out in protest at US financial sanctions against it.
DPRK then joined the global nuclear club by conducting its first atomic test on October 9.
But DPRK surprised the world again when it agreed on October 31 to return to the six-nation forum, which involves the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia.
The apparent breakthrough came after a day of secret meetings in Beijing between Hill, China's Wu and DPRK’s Kim Gye-Gwan.
In those meetings, DPRK and the United States agreed the sanctions issue would be discussed within the six-nation forum.
But negotiators had then struggled to fix a date for resumption, with China and the United States calling for the talks to start as soon as possible.