WASHINGTON (AP) A long-delayed round of international talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program is scheduled for later this month, a senior U.S. official said Saturday.
Talks are expected to reconvene December 18th in Beijing and continue for three to five days, the official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because host China had not announced final plans.
North Korea has stayed away from the six-nation talks for more than a year, but agreed in principle this fall to resume negotiations. U.S. diplomats have been preparing for a new round, which would be aimed at implementing a moribund agreement by the North to renounce weapons and their development, but the date was uncertain.
The disarmament talks carry greater weight now that North Korea has exploded a nuclear device and tested a long-range missile earlier this year. Pyongyang ignored warnings against both actions from ally China and much of the rest of the world.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last month North Korea must come to new talks ready to deal, or there is no point in holding them. It is not clear whether the North has made specific promises for the outcome of the new talks. But the U.S. official said China has said the sessions will produce results.