A fourth joint draft statement on the North Korean nuclear programme states that Pyongyang should dismantle all nuclear weapons development projects, but steers clear of referring to civil nuclear technology as the six-nation talks in Beijing grind on to their tenth day.

In return, the Chinese prepared draft statement calls for a guarantee of North Korea’s national security, normalisation of relations with the USA, and economic aid, including the supply of energy. However, there is no mention of which should come first.

Delegations consider the draft to be a positive measure but there are a number of significant issues to be resolved as the draft steers clear of discrepancies in positions among the countries, instead focusing on areas of agreement.

North Korea and the USA, which have met eight times in one to one talks since the latest round of negotiations began, still disagree on how quickly aid should be given after it begins to dismantle the programme, with the North demanding the concessions be delivered simultaneously. Japan and the USA are opposed to any civilian nuclear measures and want to see North Korea abandon all nuclear activities and there are also issues to be resolved regarding how the dismantling process would be monitored and verified.

The six negotiators from China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States are expected to give final comments on the Chinese text today. The countries are expected to finalise the joint statement this week.