WASHINGTON – The United States said Tuesday it expects six-nation North Korean nuclear disarmament talks to resume next week in Beijing, around July 18.
The chief U.S. envoy to those talks, Christopher Hill, will travel to Asia on Thursday, deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey said. He will be in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.
"We expect a six-party meeting on the 18th or thereabouts," Casey told The Associated Press.
Speaking to reporters later, he said Hill was traveling to Beijing for the expected talks and that any formal announcement would come from China.
The talks — involving China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States — were last held in March.
The announcement came amid optimism that North Korea could shut down its nuclear reactor in coming days as required by an agreement reached among the six parties, on Feb. 13, in Beijing.
Casey said that if all parties continue to meet their commitments, a separate meeting of the nations' foreign ministers could also happen this summer.
He said envoys next week "will first and foremost check on the progress of implementing the Feb. 13 agreement but also then begin to discuss in more detail how to move forward on the next phase here."
North Korea is expected to eventually disable its nuclear reactor and declare all its nuclear programs, according to the agreement.
"I can't predict for you or give you a real read on what these six envoys are going to determine, what progress they will actually make or not and what might end up on the agenda for the ministerial," Casey said. "But the point is for them to move forward with this."