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    BEIJING TALKS: US-DPRK DIFFERENCES REMAIN

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    BEIJING, May 13 (RIA Novosti) - At a Beijing session of the six-sided working group on overcoming the crisis around the North Korean nuclear program, China admitted that differences between the US and North Korea remain.

    Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a briefing on Thursday that the US and North Korean delegations "still preserve certain, and even great, differences." At the same time, in his words, during the speech exchange, experts of the six countries added "new contexts" to their positions.

    Besides diplomats from Pyongyang and Washington, the Chinese, Russian, Japanese and South Korean foreign ministries' experts take part in these talks held behind closed doors.

    Liu Jianchao said the sides "presented their positions in an honest and detailed way," and expressed the hope that the speeches delivered by the heads of the six countries' expert groups will be useful "for full understanding of each other's positions." The main aim of the nuclear problem's resolution consists in making the Korean peninsula an area free of nuclear weapons, stressed the Chinese diplomat.

    The decision to create a working group of experts was taken during the second round of the six-sided talks at the level of deputy foreign ministers late in February. Its tasks include issues of preparation for plenary rounds of talks and the search for mutually acceptable solutions.

    Russian experts who take part in the first session of the working group said that, as its activity is of a preparatory nature, no serious breakthroughs in the settlement of the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula are expected.

    Nevertheless, they express the hope that despite tough positions of the main players - the DPRK and the USA - the working group will manage to organize in summer this year a third plenary round of talks at the level of deputy ministers.

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