Beijing and Washington are studying multiple paths for restarting frozen nuclear negotiations with North Korea, a South Korean diplomat said on Tuesday.
"South Korea, the U.S. and China have been seeking various options to resume a meaningful dialogue on denuclearization [with North Korea]," South Korea's senior negotiator to the paralyzed six-party talks, Hwang Joon-kook, told the Yonhap News Agency.
Hwang was speaking in Beijing, where he was scheduled to discuss the North Korean nuclear impasse with his Chinese opposite at the six-nation negotiations, Wu Dawei.
The multinational aid-for-denuclearization negotiations involving China, the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and the United States have been at a standstill since 2008. While Pyongyang has voiced interest in returning to the negotiating table, it has balked at taking any initial steps demanded by Washington to end its nuclear arms activities as a condition of the talks resuming. Beijing has argued against placing any preconditions on future talks.
Elsewhere, Japanese officials are slated to visit Sandia National Laboratories later this week as part of an Extended Deterrence Dialogue with the United States, the U.S. State Department said in a Monday press release.
The visit to the U.S. nuclear weapons complex in New Mexico is intended to "deepen [Japanese] understanding of the strategic weapons systems that support U.S. extended deterrence guarantees," the department said. Japan is under the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
Separately, U.S. and South Korean airmen late last month conducted an exercise at Kunsan Air Base involving the response to a weapon of mass destruction, according to a Monday U.S. Pacific Command press release. In addition to its nuclear program, the North is assumed to have active chemical and biological weapons programs that officials fear could be used in attacks against South Korea.
Meanwhile, Singapore on Tuesday announced the filing of charges against a merchant firm, Chinpo Shipping Company, for allegedly helping to facilitate an illegal arms deal between Cuba and North Korea that was uncovered last summer, Reuters reported. U.N. Security Council sanctions outlaw all weapons commerce with Pyongyang.