11/28/2006, 00.00
CHINA – NORTH KOREA

A year later Kim Jong-il's negotiator is back in Beijing

US, Russian, South Korean and Japanese representatives are already in the Chinese capital. Tokyo rules out multilateral dialogue whilst Washington sees direct talks with Pyongyang possible.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – North Korea's deputy foreign minister flew into Beijing on Tuesday for renewed six-nation talks on his country's nuclear programme or at least to find some kind of compromise with Chinese and US representatives.

Talks were suspended a year ago after Pyongyang's representatives walked out.

North Korea's nuclear test on october 9 made matters worse pushing the United Nations to impose financial sanctions against the Stalinist regime.

Kim Kye-gwan, who is said to be a protégé of North Korea's 'dear leader', arrived in the Chinese capital last night. Representatives from the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Russia were already there.

The presence of top US negotiator Christopher Hill has given some hope for a direct dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington.

According to US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, a meeting between Mr Hill and Mr Kim is "certainly an open possibility."

"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," Mr Hill said when he arrived in the Chinese capital on Monday.

Japan's representative Kenichiro Sasae told Japanese reporters that he had held talks with the Chinese and Americans separately but denied that there were any plans for multilateral discussions between the negotiators.

Tokyo has expressed its disappointment for the October 9 test and imposed unilateral sanctions against North Korea.

In September 2005 Pyongyang accepted to take part in six-nation talks about its nuclear programme in exchange for energy supplies and economic benefits.

They were suddenly interrupted two months later when Washington blocked access by North Korea to foreign banks accusing the North Koreans of money laundering and counterfeiting US dollars.

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