PostHeaderIcon North Korea reaffirms commitment to nuclear talks

The commitment was made by North Korean diplomats during annual security policy talks by senior officials of the 26-nation ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Asia's only security forum composed of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' 10 members and its partners, including those involved in the six-way talks."DPRK (North Korea) reaffirmed this morning its commitment to multilateral security process," said M.C. Abad, a Filipino diplomat who heads the ARF secretariat.He said the rogue Stalinist state had submitted a document to be included in the ARF's annual security publication in which it "expressed the view that the ongoing implementation of the agreements in the six-party talks is an affirmative development."North Korea in February agreed to a breakthrough deal to shut down a key nuclear reactor in exchange for badly needed fuel aid.Pyongyang, however, failed to meet the first key deadline after insisting that it first receive assets that had been frozen at a Macau bank under US money-laundering and counterfeiting sanctions.The last round of six-nation talks -- involving China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States -- was held in Beijing in March among senior foreign ministry officials.Abad said the North Korean delegation, headed by foreign ministry officials Jong Song-il and Ri Tong-il, did not give any timeframe on when it intended to shut down its reactors.Major General Qian Lihua, head of the Chinese delegation, said other topics discussed included terrorism and transnational crime. He declined to directly comment on the North Korean issue, but said: "We confirmed to solve all these problems through joint efforts."The Philippines has been actively wooing the parties involved to hold their next round of talks in Manila on the sidelines of the ARF ministerial meetings in August.President Gloria Arroyo, who is on a three-day trip to Japan, told her counterpart Shinzo Abe that she hoped the six nations would consider her offer since US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was also scheduled to attend the August meeting. jvg/kw/jc