International talks on North Korea's nuclear program to firm up a deadline for the country to disable any nuclear bomb-producing facilities have been postponed, officials said Monday.
The talks had been expected to start around the middle of this week, but Japanese and South Korean officials said they would instead meet at a later date that has not yet been set. No reason for the delay was given.
The six-nation talks - among China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas - have dragged on for years and been beset by delays, but have this year finally made some progress. The North shut down its sole operating nuclear reactor in July, and had been displaying willingness to take further steps in exchange for political and economic concessions.
A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Monday that host China had informed Japan on Monday that the talks would be postponed. China gave no reason for the postponement and gave no new date for the start of talks, the official said on condition of anonymity due to policy.