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N Korea missiles offers chance for nuclear talks

By Super

Seoul, July 8: North Korea's missile launches could offer an opportunity to resume long-stalled international talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's atomic weapons programmes, Seoul's top nuclear envoy said today.

South Korea, the United States and China -- key parties to those six-country negotiations -- have stressed the need for diplomacy even as the UN Security Council ponders a resolution that could impose sanctions on the communist state.

''We will be holding discussions with the idea that the situation following the missile launch could be an opportunity for the resumption of the six-party talks,'' Chun Yung-woo, South Korean envoy to the nuclear talks, told reporters.

He was speaking before the start of talks with US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who arrived from Beijing yesterday after discussions with Chinese officials.

''The Chinese made it very clear they have no interest whatsoever in the DPRK (North Korea) developing its missiles and engaging in missile launches,'' Hill told reporters before meeting Chun. ''We need to get the six-party process going very, very soon.'' Chun did not rule out an unofficial meeting of the six countries, which also include Japan, Russia and the two Koreas, or going ahead without North Korea if Pyongyang continues to refuse participation.

The six-party talks have been on hold since late last year.

North Korea launched seven missiles on Wednesday, including a long-range Taepodong-2, which officials in Seoul and Washington said failed soon after launch.


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