After four days, a meeting of six nations discussing the dispute over North Korea’s nuclear program adjourned today with China’s foreign minister saying that “various serious differences” remained before the stand-off could be resolved.
But Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said the governments had agreed to set up working groups to discuss how to go forward and had reached a consensus on holding the next round of senior-level talks.
“Spring is a season of promise,” said Li, thanking the delegates at a closing ceremony in Beijing.
The conference to solve the stand-off between the North and the United States ended more than three hours after its scheduled closure amid reports that Pyongyang was demanding revisions to a joint statement.
“Some people think that not enough progress was made,” Li said. “But the speed of these negotiations is not very fast. The will of the participants is the most important thing, and the will of these participants is to seek peace.”
He added: “We must use a constructive attitude to narrow differences and expand common ground through dialogue, to resolve the issue.”
There are still “some various serious differences,” he said.
Five nations – South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan – were seated for several minutes waiting before the North Korean delegation strode in. Its chief delegate, Kim Kye Gwan, was smiling broadly.
Kyodo News, a Japanese news agency, said North Korea had urged a “last-minute revision” to a joint statement by all six countries working to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program. It said China was working to “persuade North Korea” to accept the statement.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported from Beijing that the North was insisting on “including a certain clause in a joint press statement”. It cited an unidentified diplomatic source.
The US Embassy in Beijing had no immediate comment, and there was no immediate word from North Korea.
The countries were trying for the second time in Beijing to resolve a 16-month dispute between Washington and Pyongyang. The United States says the North must end its nuclear program - the North wants aid and security guarantees.
The parties have been meeting since Wednesday in the Chinese capital. They also convened in August in a meeting that produced some discord but no substantive result.