Six parties had "good meeting" on North Korea: Rice

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) and top U.S. nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill listen to opening remarks during a meeting between foreign ministers of the six party nations and Rice on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Singapore July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who met her North Korean counterpart for the first time, said the six nations involved in North Korea disarmament talks had a good meeting on Wednesday.

“It was a good meeting. There were no surprises,” said Rice. “It was just an informal opportunity.”

“Everyone essentially confirmed (previous agreements) and the need to move rapidly to finish phase two obligations,” she said after meeting her counterparts from China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas.

There was a lot of discussion about the mechanism to verify North Korea’s nuclear program and there was a general call for better relations among all the parties, Rice said.

“I thought the atmosphere was really good,” she said, adding that Beijing would like to have a more formal ministerial meeting soon but no date had been said.

She said nothing “surprising” happened. North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chu “talked about the importance of everyone meeting their obligations. I don’t want to go into details.”

“It was not a stand-off of people expressing their positions ... There were probably three or four rounds of comments.

“The spirit was good because people believed we have made progress. There is also a sense of urgency about moving on and a sense that we can’t afford to have another hiatus of several months.”

Said she had shaken hands with Pak both at the beginning and end of the meeting.

Reporting by Sue Plemming; Editing by Bill Tarrant