Seoul: A US diplomat on Saturday said talks with North Korea aimed at restarting six-party negotiations on the country's nuclear programmes are unlikely to produce a breakthrough in the near future.

Glyn Davies, coordinator for United States policy on North Korea, said there was still a "long way" to go before the six-party talks could resume.

Davies was speaking in Seoul where he arrived on Saturday to brief South Korean officials on two days of discussions with North Korean diplomats in Beijing.
   
In the Chinese capital he had said he had seen "a little bit of progress" but no breakthrough.

Asked about the prospect of the six-party talks resuming, Davies was quoted by a news agency as saying: "We are so long away from anything like that."

The forum is chaired by China, and brings together the US and the two Koreas, along with Russia and Japan.

North Korea abandoned the six-nation talks in April 2009 in protest at US "hostility," and conducted its second nuclear test the following month, sparking international condemnation and tougher sanctions.

Washington has been exploring a resumption of the negotiations but insists Pyongyang take steps to shut down its uranium enrichment facilities and ease tensions with Seoul before restarting the multilateral forum.

Pyongyang has said it wants to return to the six-party talks, albeit without any preconditions.

Davies said he will meet his South Korean counterpart Lim Sung-Nam and Kim Tae-Hyo, South Korea's deputy national security adviser, to discuss the meeting in Beijing and "talk about the way forward".
He did not give any details of what progress had been made in the talks on Thursday and yesterday with North Korea's veteran nuclear envoy Kim Kye-Gwan. He was due to give a press conference later on Saturday.

The meeting in Beijing were the third since July, and had originally been set for December but were postponed because of the death of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il and the subsequent transition of power to his son Jong-Un.

Kim Jong-Un's plans remain unclear and Davies said in Beijing that Washington and Pyongyang had not agreed on further meetings.

China, North Korea's closest ally, has repeatedly urged a resumption of the six-party talks.

(Agencies)