WASHINGTON – China's ambassador to the United States said Sunday that he believed envoys from six nations are very close to agreeing on a joint statement that could eventually lead to North Korea (search) abandoning its nuclear weapons program.
An earlier round of talks recessed on Aug. 7 with no agreement, and the negotiations were to resume this week in Beijing (search), although no exact date has been set. The diplomats are trying to agree on a set of principles that would act as signposts for an agreement scrapping North Korea's nuclear program.
"The (Korean) peninsula should be denuclearized, and that should be the goal of the six party talks," Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong said on CNN's "Late Edition." "And I think we are very close to a joint statement."
When asked whether China, with its close ties to Pyongyang (search), should take a larger role in persuading North Korea to stop its nuclear program, Zhou said the six nations -- the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan -- needed to work together.
"It's not just what China should do alone," Zhou said. "I think this is something we need to work together, and without that I don't think we will be able to accomplish it."
The latest nuclear standoff with North Korea was sparked in 2002 after U.S. officials said the North admitted to a secret uranium enrichment program.
Three previous rounds of six-nation talks in Beijing since 2003 have failed to bridge differences.