BEIJING – North Korea's (search) main nuclear envoy said Tuesday that no progress had been made at talks seeking to persuade his country to abandon its atomic arms, the first public comments from the North after eight days of negotiations.
"The duration of talks was long, but there was no progress," Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said, according to South Korea's (search) Yonhap news agency, after a day of meetings between head delegates at the six-nation negotiations.
"We are in a situation where there are differences in opinions and some issues of contention," Kim said.
The North Korean diplomat said his side would "do our best to reach agreements," and that he would make more comments later, according to Yonhap.
Envoys were working on a third draft of a proposed joint statement after they spent the weekend struggling with North Korea's demands for what it should receive if it disarms.
The other sides at the talks expressed frustration over the lack of progress earlier Tuesday before heading into the first meeting of all head delegates since Saturday. The meeting concluded Tuesday evening, but no details results were known, the Chinese press center at the talks said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura (search) told reporters in Tokyo earlier Tuesday that the talks would "take more time."
"I can't say discussions on the wording of the agreement are going smoothly," Machimura said. "North Korea continues to deny that it has a uranium enrichment program."
U.S. officials said in late 2002 that the North admitted to violating a 1994 deal by embarking on a secret uranium enrichment program, sparking the latest nuclear standoff.
"I don't know where we go with this," the chief U.S. delegate, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, said before Tuesday's meetings.
His South Korean counterpart, Song Min-soon, added: "In the current situation, we are almost running out of wisdom."