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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Envoy Heads to Beijing Optimistic About Pyongyang

BEIJING -- Washington's envoy to North Korean nuclear talks arrived in China and his Pyongyang counterpart conferred with Russia on Sunday, as hopes revived for progress in the long-running six-country negotiations.

U.S. envoy Christopher Hill, aiming to fix a date for resuming the talks, said he would brief China's chief negotiator, Wu Dawei, about discussions he held last week in Berlin with the North Korean representative, Kim Kye Gwan.

"I will ask [Wu] about his thoughts on when they could schedule the next round of six-party talks," Hill told reporters upon arriving at Beijing airport.

China hosts the talks, which also include the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia, and which began in 2003 with the aim of persuading impoverished Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear arms development.

The last round in December ended inconclusively, but last week's three days of meetings in Berlin between Hill and Kim raised hopes. North Korea's official news agency said Friday that a "certain agreement" had been reached there.

Kim held talks in Moscow on Sunday with Russia's chief negotiator, Alexander Losyukov, on prospects of solving the dispute, the Foreign Ministry said. Russian news agencies quoted Kim as saying he was pleased with the outcome.

RIA-Novosti said North Korean and U.S. financial representatives would meet Monday to discuss the possibility of canceling financial sanctions against Pyongyang, which are closely linked to the nuclear dispute. It gave no details.

Hill flew to Beijing from Tokyo, where he expressed hope Saturday that the next round could make progress.

The urgency of making headway has grown since the North defied international warnings in October and conducted its first nuclear test, triggering United Nations sanctions.