Sun, Jun 13, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Kim Jong-il wants to `dance' with US

SIX-WAY TALKS According to reports, the North Korean leader told Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi his negotiators would talk with the US until they are hoarse

REUTERS , TOKYO

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is so eager for dialogue with the US that his negotiators to six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions will talk until they are hoarse, Japan's Kyodo news agency said yesterday.

The reclusive leader of one of the world's last hardline communist states made the remarks on the so far inconclusive talks on curbing the North's nuclear arms programs in a rare recent meeting with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

"We want to talk with the United States until our throats are dry," Kyodo quoted Kim as telling Koizumi in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, last month.

"We want other countries concerned to play music so that we can dance well," he was quoted as saying.

Kim was speaking at a summit with Koizumi last month when the Japanese prime minister stressed the importance of resolving the crisis over North Korea's nuclear arms programs through the six-party talks, Kyodo said.

The six parties to the talks are the two Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan.

A third round of six-party talks is expected to start on June 23 in Beijing, although analysts hold out little hope of progress.

The negotiators have met in Beijing twice without reaching any agreement on dismantling the North's covert nuclear weapons programs.

The nuclear crisis erupted in October 2002 when US officials said North Korea had disclosed it was working on a secret program to enrich uranium for weapons, in violation of an international agreement.

North Korea, which denied the disclosure, then pulled out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, expelled UN inspectors and took its plutonium plant out of mothballs. The US wants North Korea to abandon completely both a program to make weapons-grade plutonium and the uranium enrichment program.

North Korea wants compensation, including heavy fuel oil, from the other five and a non-aggression treaty with the US as a precondition for scrapping its nuclear program.

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