SEOUL, South Korea – International talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program are likely to resume in the week starting Dec. 18, South Korea's top nuclear envoy said Sunday.
Chun Yung-woo told The Associated Press that he expects the talks to resume in the week starting Dec. 18, but that consultations are still under way and China will announce the date soon.
In Washington, a senior U.S. official said Saturday the talks are expected to reconvene Dec. 18 in Beijing and continue for three to five days. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because host China has not announced a final schedule.
North Korea has boycotted the talks since November last year, angered by U.S. financial restrictions imposed because of Pyongyang's alleged involvement in money laundering and counterfeiting of dollars.
The parties to the talks — the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan — have been trying to set a date for the fresh round of talks. North Korea agreed to a resumption of negotiations after it tested a nuclear bomb on Oct. 9.
Chun said Seoul hopes to see "substantial progress toward implementing the Sept. 19 statement" in the upcoming nuclear talks, referring to a breakthrough agreement reached at talks last year when North Korea agreed to abandon its atomic program in exchange for security guarantees and aid.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday that any future nuclear talks must yield "early and concrete results."
"We believe it is necessary for North Korea to show concrete actions toward the abandonment of all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs," Abe said.
Last month, the U.S. offered North Korea specific details about the kind of economic and energy assistance the North would receive in exchange for shutting down its nuclear arms facilities. But it remains unclear whether the communist country has made specific promises for the outcome of the new talks.
In Tokyo, a top Japanese ruling party official warned Sunday that that his country opposes resuming the nuclear talks unless Pyongyang is ready to compromise.
"It's fine if North Korea can bring some contribution to peace, but simply starting talks is not meaningful," Shoichi Nakagawa, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's policy research council, said on a morning talk show carried by public broadcaster NHK.