US to N Korea: Focus on disarmament

North says US sanctions must end before talks can begin on nuclear programme.

    Widespread condemnation followed North Korea's nuclear test in October [EPA]

    "Eliminating them as a result of the talks would be the wrong way around."
     
    Arsenal
     
    The North conducted its first nuclear test on October 9 and says it must maintain a nuclear arsenal to protect itself from the "hostile policy" of the US.
     
    The main sticking point at the moment however is the US blacklisting of a Macau bank which Washington says was a "willing pawn" to North Korea's alleged illegal financial activities, including counterfeiting and money laundering.
     
    North Korea agreed to resume six-nation nuclear talks after a 13-month boycott after the US agreed to discuss the issue.
     

    North Korea's envoy, Kim Kye Gwan, left,
    says US sanctions must be lifted [EPA]

    Hill said that while those talks continue, attention needs to focus on implementing a September 2005 agreement under which Pyongyang agreed to disarm.
     
    He said some of the elements of that deal should begin being implemented "even this week."
     
    Several draft proposals are circulating on how to get things moving, he said, but did not provide details.
     
    An unnamed South Korean official quoted by the Associated Press confirmed that negotiators yet to begin discusssions of the North's nuclear program because of North Korea's insistence that the US first lift the financial restrictions.

    The US has told North Korea all the concessions it can offer, "even those to be made in the final stage,'' but the North hasn't responded yet, the official said on condition of anonymity.
     
    'Joint effort'
     
    US and North Korean experts met earlier in the week in Beijing to discuss the financial restrictions separately from the nuclear talks.
     
    No breakthroughs were made, although the two sides may resume talks on the issue in New York next month.
     
    China, which is hosting the talks, said all sides needed to cooperate to bring a resolution to the standoff.

    "China will make its utmost efforts to help relevant parties to bridge their gaps and narrow their differences, but it will still depend on a joint effort by the rest of the parties," a Chinese foreign Ministry spokesman said.
     
    The talks, which also include Japan, South Korea, China and Russia, are expected to continue at least through Friday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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