I'm sure we'll be hearing tons about this soon, so I figured I'd get the ball rolling with some pre-talks optimism from Christopher Hill, a U.S. assistant secretary of state and the American envoy to the talks. (Hill's bio: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/44553.htm)
The AP reports Hill emerged optimistic that some progress just might be made during the upcoming round after a meeting on Sunday with Wu Dawei, China's representative to the forum. (http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/01/22/news/korea.php)
In the article, after the meeting, Hill is reported to have remarked, "Based on all the consultations we've had in the last week or so, I think we have a basis for getting together as soon as possible in the six-party process and making progress."
Other highlights include :
-Rumors that a date for the talks will be announced soon (perhaps tomorrow our time). As the host, China has the privilege of making the announcement, but will consult all invovled before doing so.
-Background info that the breakthrough (if there is one) might have come as a result of a series of direct meetings between Hill and a DPRK envoy, Kim Kye Gwan, over the course of three days last week in Berlin. This AP report notes that the Chosun Ilbo reported that the two sides came close to an agreement that would see the DPRK freeze its nuclear activity and allow international monitoring in exchange for aid.