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U.S.-China summit unlikely to produce agreement on six-party talks: S. Korean official

A U.S.-China summit set for later this month is unlikely to produce an agreement on resuming six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programs as Washington is against convening talks for talks' sake, a South Korean official said Sunday.

   U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao are scheduled to meet in Washington on Jan. 19. North Korea is expected to be a key topic for the summit amid Chinese calls for restarting six-party talks to discuss tensions over Pyongyang's provocations and nuclear programs.

   North Korea has also signaled its willingness to negotiate after escalating tensions with the deadly shelling of a South Korean island in November, a typical behavioral pattern by a nation that has used provocations to raise tensions and maximize its negotiating power before returning to talks.

   Pyongyang renewed its peace overtures to Seoul, stressing the importance of improved relations and dialogue with South Korea in its New Year's message issued on Saturday. The North also said in the message that it wants to achieve peace in the region and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

   South Korea and the U.S., wary of the North's pattern of behavior, have urged Pyongyang to take concrete steps demonstrating its denuclearization willingness so as to prevent it from abusing the negotiations to get concessions for promises on which it ultimately backtracks.

   Seoul and Washington have also said they are not interested in talking for talks' sake.

   "Considering the current U.S. attitude, it appears to be difficult for the United States and China to reach agreement on resuming six-party talks," a senior South Korean official said on condition of anonymity.

   The summit is not expected to be a "dramatic turning point" in the situation, he said.

   The six-party talks have been deadlocked since the last session in December 2008 due to a North Korean boycott. The talks bring together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S.   

Meanwhile, Washington's special envoy for North Korea affairs, Stephen Bosworth, is likely to visit South Korea as early as this week to assess the current situation and discuss ways to move forward, another government official said, also speaking on customary condition of anonymity. (Yonhap News)

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