Mon, Feb 12, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Poultry theme popular with nuclear delegates

AP , BEIJING

Which came first: the chicken, the egg or the North Korea nuclear talks?

As negotiators reach for metaphors to describe the six-nation negotiations that aim to disarm Pyongyang, they keep settling on a poultry theme.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice got it all started after the first day of talks, when she told a Senate hearing on Thursday in Washington that she was cautiously optimistic, but added, "I don't count my chickens until they hatch."

The next day, after the US delegates and North Koreans had lunch -- where it is not known if any chicken products were on the menu -- Assistant US Secretary of State Christopher Hill echoed his boss, more or less word-for-word.

Then the chief North Korean negotiator got in on the act.

"As someone said, don't waste your energy trying to count chickens before they hatch," Kim Kye-gwan said.

South Korean envoy Chun Yung-woo sided with the egg.

"We don't know when the egg will hatch, but we can assume that it is not an unfertilized egg," he said on Saturday.

With the talks bogged down in details over how to compensate North Korea for giving up its nuclear weapons, the question remains whether the latest round will finally see the North start to dismantle its bombs -- or if someone will be left with egg on his face.

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