|In this file picture taken 19 September 2005, United States Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill (L) shakes hands with North Korea's chief negotiator Kim Gye Gwan (R) (AFP Photo)|
US and Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s envoys met for a second day Wednesday for more tough negotiations aimed at laying the groundwork for a resumption of six-nation talks on Pyongyang's nuclear arms program.
US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, Washington's pointman on DPRK, met with the North's envoy Kim Kye-Gwan and Chinese negotiator Wu Dawei, US embassy officials in Beijing said.
The envoys had already spoken on Tuesday in an invigorated push to resume the roundtable negotiation process that began in 2003 but has been stalled for the past year over DPRK objections to US financial sanctions.
Asked earlier Wednesday if he was optimistic progress would be made, Hill told reporters: "Oh, I don't know. I have no idea".
"But what I do know is the first round of talks will need to make progress and that's what I'm working on," he added, in comments broadcast on Japanese television.
The new focus on restarting the process also has drawn Japanese and Republic of Korean envoys to a flurry of diplomatic meetings this week in China, which has played host to the six-party forum.
Hill has said he hopes this week's discussions can lead to a resumption of full-fledged nuclear negotiations in mid-December.
Tuesday's meeting between Hill and Kim was their first since secret talks in Beijing on October 31 that also included China's Wu.
Following those meetings, DPRK agreed to rejoin the negotiations in principle, but no date was set.
The resumption of full talks has taken on a new urgency since Pyongyang's first ever nuclear weapons test on October 9, which triggered United Nations sanctions.
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said late on Tuesday that the US, DPRK and Chinese envoys were to meet together and then bilaterally on Wednesday as they did the previous day.
The six-party talks involve China -- Pyongyang's closest ally -- along with DPRK, Japan, Russia, RoK, and the United States.