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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 July 2005, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Press hopeful over N Korea talks
Representatives of the 6 nations taking part in the talks
The delegates in Beijing are seeking to dispel distrust
Newspapers in the countries involved in the six-party talks nuclear talks on North Korea are cautiously optimistic that progress can be achieved during the fourth round of discussions.

Most stress the urgent need to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programme and reduce tension in the region.

However, in Japan, newspapers are concerned that the ongoing row over Japanese abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s is marginalising Tokyo.

Nowhere is the press more enthusiastic than in China. "Precious opportunity for nuclear-free zone," declares the China Daily. "With the six parties back on track, the onus is on them to produce something tangible. Do not extinguish the light at the end of the tunnel."

"The key lies in establishing mutual trust," believes Renmin Ribao. "Humanity has after all entered the 21st Century, and a Cold War state of affairs and Cold War thinking no longer conform with the times."

A fleeting precious opportunity to peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue
Guoji Xianqu Daobao

"A political resolution of the Korean peninsula nuclear issue through peace talks will achieve a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula, and conforms to the basic interests and demands of this region and the entire international community."

Beijing's Guoji Xianqu Daobao describes the talks as "a fleeting precious opportunity to peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue".

If they fail, the paper warns, there is a danger the UN Security Council will apply sanctions and a military blockade against Pyongyang, with unpredictable consequences.

The headline in another Beijing paper, Xin Jing Bao, proclaims "Six-party talks: More sincerity means more opportunities."

It calls for the parties to "strengthen confidence and face the issue sincerely". "They can definitely find the gates to peace," it says.

Sense of urgency

The New York Times speaks of "the heightened stakes and grave concerns surrounding the six-nation talks".

It says they are taking place with "a far greater sense of urgency - and it has prompted some administration officials to warn that they are prepared to advocate... even more severe economic penalties if the talks go nowhere".

"The success or failure of the talks is also expected to colour relations between the United States and China at a time when the Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, is preparing for his first visit to America in September."

Russia's Krasnaya Zvezda argues that Washington alone cannot force North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme.

The occupation of Iraq has deprived the USA of the military option
Russia's Krasnaya Zvezda

"It does not have the means to bring about regime change in North Korea, except through open aggression, as in Iraq."

"But it is precisely the occupation of Iraq that has deprived the USA of the military option," the paper says, adding that any such move "would have to overcome the resistance of South Korea, Japan, China and Russia."

According to a report in The Korea Herald, "South Korean government officials said the representatives of all six countries have a lot to discuss as the situation has developed rapidly since their last gathering."

The paper also says it could be the last round of six-party talks in Beijing, "with China hinting it does not want to be the host of the high-profile meeting again".

"North Korea is most likely to agree only to a venue that enables it to directly contact its main command centre during the negotiation process."

But it adds: "South Korea would be eager to host the talks since the nuclear issue is a key national policy interest."

Buying time?

Tokyo's Yomiuri Weekly says "the overwhelming view is that North Korea has agreed to the resumption very possibly to 'buy time' to dodge pressure from the international community and that there is no prospect for settlement of the abduction issue Japan regards as important".

"Still, aren't the countries involved in the six-party talks oddly paying too much heed to North Korea? The recent series of moves give us the impression that Japan alone, which has the abduction issue, is being left out."

Tokyo hopes to gain leverage by adopting a tougher stance
Japan's Asahi Shimbun

The Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun says that Tokyo "is likely to adopt a low profile at this round due to a lack of progress on the abduction issue. Officials said Tokyo will probably make no promises of assistance to North Korea".

"Tokyo hopes to gain leverage by adopting a tougher stance," it says.

North Korea's sentiments towards Japan are illustrated by comments in the daily Minju Joson quoted by the North Korean news agency on Tuesday.

Describing Japan as "the sworn enemy", the paper goes on: "The Japanese reactionaries would be well advised to behave themselves, keenly aware that only a miserable end will await them if the Korean nation's burning hatred and resentment against Japan erupt like a volcano."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

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