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Archive for Tuesday, December 19, 2006

U.S. sees little progress with N. Korea

Six-nation talks in China aim to halt nuclear arms program

December 19, 2006

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— The chief U.S. negotiator said today there had been no progress yet during renewed six-nation talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear arms program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.

As the disarmament talks convened Monday for the first time since the North tested a nuclear device, Pyongyang insisted it be treated as a full-fledged nuclear power. But the United States dismissed the communist regime's opening comments as unsurprising rhetoric and warned time was running out for the North to dismantle its nuclear arsenal or face sanctions.

"In terms of implementing the joint statement, I'd say (there was) not too much progress from yesterday," U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill said early today.

Hill was referring to the North's September 2005 agreement to abandon its nuclear arms program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.

The U.S. negotiator said Monday he wanted to see a willingness from the North Koreans to implement their elements of the agreement.

"The supply of our patience may have exceeded the international demand for that patience, and we should be a little less patient and pick up the pace and work faster," Hill said.

Hill said he would meet separately this morning with officials from China - North Korea's closest ally. All chief envoys also met today in a closed plenary session at the Chinese state guesthouse where the talks are occurring.

The resumption of the talks - consisting of the United States, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas - came after a more than 13-month break during which the communist North test-fired a new long-range missile in July and set off an underground atomic blast Oct. 9.

North Korea had refused to return to the multinational talks in anger over the U.S. blacklisting of a Macau bank where Pyongyang deposited some $24 million, alleging the bank was complicit in the North's counterfeiting of $100 bills and money laundering to sell weapons of mass destruction.

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