SEOUL, South Korea – International nuclear arms talks with North Korea (search) will convene July 26, ending a 13-month break over Pyongyang's refusal to attend, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
North Korea agreed earlier this month to return to the talks the week of July 25, after being assured by the top U.S. nuclear envoy that Washington recognized the communist regime's sovereignty.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the talks would convene July 26 but gave no closing date for the restored talks.
The previous three rounds, which started in 2003, met for several days but failed to lead to any results. South Korea (search) is pressing for this round of talks to be more flexible and last longer — possibly up to a month or more, with breaks for the sides to consult with officials back home.
China (search), Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States have sought at the talks to convince the North to abandon its nuclear weapons. The latest nuclear crisis was sparked in late 2002 after U.S. officials accused Pyongyang of running a secret uranium enrichment program in violation of an earlier nuclear deal between the two countries.
In February, the North claimed publicly for the first time that it had nuclear weapons, and it has since made other moves that would allow it to harvest more weapons-grade plutonium from its main nuclear reactor.