A fresh round of talks aimed at curbing North Korea's nuclear programme is to begin next month, South Korea has said.
North Korea says it has reprocessed thousands of spent nuclear fuel rods
The six-party talks are to begin on 12 May in Beijing, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck said.
Representatives of the two Koreas and China will be joined by envoys from the US, Russia and Japan at the talks.
North Korea and the US are locked in confrontation over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme; two rounds of talks to date have not produced an agreement.
The May discussions will be lower-level talks aimed at clearing the way for a high-level meeting in June.
Correspondents say China is seen as the key mediator in the nuclear standoff.
The second round of six-nation aimed at resolving the crisis ended in Beijing in February without a final agreement.
But the countries involved in the talks agreed to set up lower-level working groups to resolve specific problems before the June round of high-level negotiations.
The nuclear crisis was sparked in October 2002 when US officials said North Korea had admitted to having a secret uranium-based nuclear programme, in violation of a 1994 agreement.
It has since restarted a mothballed nuclear power station, thrown out United Nations nuclear inspectors and pulled out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
North Korea says it has reprocessed thousands of spent nuclear fuel rods at the Yongbyon nuclear facility, from which extracted plutonium can be used to manufacture nuclear bombs.
The US insists that Pyongyang must dismantle its nuclear facilities. But Pyongyang says it will only do so in return for economic and energy aid, and security guarantees from Washington.