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Russia to head security working group at six-party talks

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Russia has been involved in the formation of a working group for peace and stability in northeast Asia as part of the six-nation talks for the Korean nuclear problem, a source at the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
MOSCOW, February 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has been involved in the formation of a working group for peace and stability in northeast Asia as part of the six-nation talks for the Korean nuclear problem, a source at the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

The latest round of the six-nation talks on the Korean nuclear problem, involving North and South Korea, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia, was held February 8-13 in Beijing and ended with the adoption of a plan of initial steps on Pyongyang's nuclear disarmament.

In the month ahead of the next round, scheduled for March 19, negotiators will set up five working groups to help the parties along the way toward implementing the September 2005 agreement. Russia will head the working group for security.

The source told RIA Novosti that the sides involved in the work "are interested in practical steps to implement the agreements."

In September 2005, Pyongyang promised to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees. The negotiations broke off later that year when Washington blocked the regime's $24 million account at a Macao bank over alleged counterfeiting and money laundering.

They did not resume until December 2006, two months after North Korea reported carrying out its first nuclear bomb test.

After the latest round of the six-nation talks, Russia, the United States, South Korea and China agreed to provide humanitarian aid to North Korea, and North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

Washington has pledged to strike North Korea off its list of countries sponsoring terrorism and to resolve the issue of financial sanctions against North Korea by the next round of the talks in Beijing.

The source said the working group headed by Russia, as well as the groups for the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program and energy and economic aid to Pyongyang, will meet after March 12.

The groups for the improvement of North Korea's relations with the U.S. and Japan will meet in New York March 5-8.

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