Southeast Asia this week will urge China, the United States and other parties in six-way talks on North Korea's nuclear programme to restart negotiations and give them "new life", a regional diplomat said on Tuesday.
North Korea, which escaped U.N. censure over the March sinking of a South Korean warship, has signalled it wants to restart the talks, as does China. But Seoul and Washington want Pyongyang to admit it sank the ship.
Southeast Asia's foreign ministers will use a regional forum in Hanoi on Thursday and Friday to urge all parties to return to the talks, said Surin Pitsuwan, Chairman of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"The chair will make use of the presence of the (North Korean) minister to engage in a discussion to see if the six-party talks can be given a new life," he told reporters on the sidelines of an ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting.
North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun will attend Friday's ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Asia's largest security dialogue which includes all six parties in the stalled North Korean nuclear talks -- North and South Korea and regional powers China, Japan the United States and Russia.
Tension between North and South Korea remains high following the sinking of the corvette Cheonan that killed 46 South Korean sailors. Pyongyang has denied responsibility and accuses Seoul of fabricating the incident.
Seoul and Washington have said the North must admit responsibility for the sinking before they would return to the talks, which would give Pyongyong aid in return for disarmament. The talks have been stalled since late 2007.
A copy of a draft statement to be issued by ASEAN said the group shared "deep concern" at the sinking of the ship and growing friction on the Korean peninsula.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Temmuz 2010, 11:02