China said Tuesday that a new round of six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program will be held in Beijing on June 23-26.

"China hopes that the parties concerned will show the spirit of flexibility and cooperation," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue (search) said at a briefing.

The talks will be preceded by a working-level session on June 21-22 to set the agenda, she said.

The standoff was sparked in October 2002, when the United States said North Korea admitted operating a nuclear program in violation of a 1994 agreement.

Two previous rounds of discussions involving China, the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia ended without settlement.

China has said that stark differences remain between the negotiating partners.

Washington demands a "complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling" of Pyongyang's (search) nuclear weapons facilities.

North Korea says it is willing to freeze its nuclear program in return for economic aid and will only dismantle it if the United States promises not to invade.