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  Tuesday, November 19, 2019
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The Russian and South Korean chief representatives at the six-party talks
The Russian and South Korean chief representatives at the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament met in Moscow on Thursday to coordinate their negotiating positions.

Opening the meeting, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin told his South Korean counterpart Kim Sook: "We are now at an important stage in the six-party process - near the end of the second phase of the Korean peninsula's denuclearization. There is a range of issues that need to be discussed in order to coordinate our positions."

Under a February 2007 deal between the six parties - Russia, South Korea, North Korea, the United States, China and Japan - the North pledged to dismantle its plutonium-producing Yongbyon reactor and provide full information on its nuclear program.

Last week the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the North had resumed work to deconstruct the reactor, after a pause of several months.

Kim told the Russian diplomat that it was now of key importance that all sides fulfilled their commitments.

"Participant states must strive to fulfill their commitments in line with both the protocol on verification [of North Korea's reports on its nuclear program] and the principle of mutual action."

Seoul has criticized Japan for reneging on its commitments under the six-party deal.

Japan has refused to provide its share of the one million tons of fuel aid pledged to the reclusive communist state, demanding that Pyongyang first disclose all information on Japanese nationals abducted by the North during the 1970s and 1980s.

In response, North Korea has called for Japan to be excluded from the six-party negotiations.

Japan has also opposed the U.S. decision to remove Pyongyang from its terrorism blacklist. Washington made the decision on October 11 after reaching a deal with North Korea on verifying its past nuclear activities.

Japan's position has come as a blow to the U.S., which had hoped to conclude the current stage of North Korea's denuclearization process before George W. Bush leaves office in January.

Various international media reports have said China, Russia, the U.S., and South Korea may approach another partner - possibly the European Union or Australia - and ask them to take Japan's place as a donor to North Korea.


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