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US urges NKorea to close nuke facilities before talks

Saturday, December 2, 2006

The United States urged North Korea to completely close off the nuclear facilities that conducted the October 9 atom bomb test before resuming the six-nation talks, a Japanese newspaper said Saturday.

Christopher Hill, the US negotiator to the six-party talks, told his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-Gwan that the North must satisfy four conditions before coming back to the talks, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily said, citing Japanese and US government sources.

During the meetings in Beijing on Tuesday and Wednesday, the negotiators discussed laying the groundwork for the next six-party talks, to which Pyongyang agreed to return under heavy international pressure and UN sanctions condemning the nuclear test.

But a restart date has proved elusive.

As conditions for the North to return to the multilateral nuclear disarmament talks, Hill demanded the communist state report all of its nuclear facilities and programs, and accept inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yomiuri said.

He also demanded the North close its plutonium-producing nuclear reactor in Yongbyon and completely bury the underground nuclear test site, it said.

Kim told Hill he will take the conditions back to Pyongyang and discuss them with the North Korean leadership, Yomiuri said.

The sources said leaders from Japan, South Korea and the United States decided on the conditions when they met in Hanoi last month, the newspaper said.

"Before resuming the talks, North Korea must accept the conditions to show that it will not aggravate the current situation. After that, we will start discussing specific measures for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula," a government official was quoted as saying.

The six-party talks, which started in 2003, broke down late last year when North Korea walked out over separate financial sanctions imposed on it by the United States for money laundering and counterfeiting.




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