N Korea talks mull China plan

Plan reportedly calls for North to suspend nuclear programme within two months.

    North Korea's envoy has said he is ready to
    make the 'first steps' towards a deal [EPA]

    "We've gone 18 months without anything, and so we have to pick up the pace"

    Christopher Hill, chief US envoy

    Envoys from South Korea, China, the US, Japan and Russia voiced hope that North Korea would accept measures to rein in its nuclear activities in return for aid and security assurances.
     
    The reported Chinese plan largely reflects an outline agreement struck at six-party talks in September 2005 but never implemented.
     
    The chief US negotiator admitted that the six-party process – begun more than three years ago – had so far made little headway.
     
    "We've gone 18 months without anything, and so we have to pick up the pace," Christopher Hill told reporters on Friday before going into the second day of talks.
     
    'First step'
     
    Six-nation talks

    More on where the six countries stand on North Korea

    Kim Kye-gwan, the chief North Korean envoy, told the delegates on Thursday that Pyongyang was "ready to make its first step" towards denuclearisation, Russia's Interfax new agency reported, quoting an unidentified source.
     
    US officials, cited by NBC News, said North Korea was offering to suspend and eventually disable its nuclear programme and permit UN inspections of facilities.
     
    In exchange the US would establish diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, UN sanctions would end and the North would receive hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel aid.
     
    However, Kenichiro Sasae, Japan's chief negotiator said the six sides still had much ground to cover.
     
    "It's too early to discuss whether the draft agreement is acceptable as each country is to present its ideas and I believe China has its own ideas," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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