The deal includes North Korea’s demand to be removed from a US terrorism blacklist, as well as energy aid and major diplomatic and security benefits.
Aid for weapons
In February 2007, North Korea had agreed to give up its nuclear weapons in return for aid.
Pyongyang last tested a nuclear weapon in 2006, but said it had submitted its declaration in November.
|“We’ve definitely made progress but I don’t want to suggest there has been
any major breakthrough“
The US countered that the declaration did not account for an alleged secret uranium enrichment programme or for alleged proliferation to Syria.
The US response to talks with Pyongyang on Tuesday was less enthusiastic.
“We’ve definitely made progress [on a declaration] but I don’t want to suggest there has been any major breakthrough,” Christopher Hill, the US negotiator, said.
Hill was speaking in Beijing after discussing the nuclear issue with Kim Kye Gwan, the senior North Korean negotiator, in Singapore.
The US negotiator had been briefing other parties to the six-nation disarmament deal on the outcome of the Singapore talks.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted Kim as saying after the Tuesday meeting that differences between the two countries “have narrowed a lot”.
Wu Dawei, China’s senior negotiator in the disarmament talks, said on Wednesday that they were experiencing ups and downs and suggested that a breakthrough could be made “around autumn”.
The main sticking points are believed to be the details North Korea will reveal about any nuclear know-how or materials provided to other nations, along with allegations it had a secret uranium enrichment programme in addition to its known plutonium programme.
China is North Korea’s main diplomatic ally and source of food and energy assistance.