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Six-nation nuclear talks ‘golden key’ to peace: Tang Jiaxuan

The six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs is the “golden key” to opening the door for regional powers to achieve peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia, former Chinese state councilor Tang Jiaxuan said Wednesday.

The comments come amid a flurry of renewed diplomatic efforts on how to restart the six-party talks that stalled when North Korea quit the aid-for-disarmament negotiations in 2009. The talks group the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

“There is no doubt that dialogue with North Korea is the best option to help resolve security-related issues with regard to the Korean Peninsula,” Tang told an academic forum in Seoul.

“And the six-party talks is the golden key to bring permanent peace and prosperity to Northeast Asia,” said Tang, who also served as China’s foreign minister between 1998 and 2003.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula still run high after the North’s two military attacks on the South last year that killed 50 South Koreans, mostly soldiers.

After sharply raising tensions, North Korea has called for a resumption of the six-party talks without preconditions, but South Korea and the U.S. said the North must demonstrate its genuine willingness to keep its promise to denuclearize before the multilateral forum could resume.

Tang said that North Korea is trying to reopen the six-party talks because Pyongyang wants to improve its economy and people’s livelihoods, a development he noted is a “positive sign.”

He urged regional powers to swiftly resume the six-nation talks, echoing China’s official stance on the forum.

Since late July, South Korean and U.S. diplomats have engaged with North Korean officials in preliminary talks to discuss the terms for reviving the multilateral forum, but no tangible progress was reported from the meetings.

Seoul and Washington have insisted that Pyongyang halt all nuclear activities, including its uranium enrichment program, and allow U.N. inspectors to monitor the suspension as preconditions to reopening the six-party talks. North Korea, however, is pushing to resume the forum without any conditions attached.

(Yonhap News)