Sat, Feb 24, 2007 - Page 3 News List

North Korea to attend talks in New York

AFP , SEOUL

US Vice President Dick Cheney, right, meets with Kevin Rudd, leader of the opposition Australian Labor Party, at a hotel in Sydney yesterday during Cheney's two-day visit to Australia. Cheney said Washington was not blindly trusting North Korea to implement a landmark nuclear deal.

PHOTO: AFP

North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator is scheduled to visit New York early next month to follow up the multinational agreement on scrapping his country's nuclear programs, sources said yesterday.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan was expected to take part in a working group meeting on normalizing US-North Korea relations, a source told South Korean Yonhap news agency.

"No date has been set for his visit but it is likely to last from March 5 through 7," the source said.

An official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity confirmed that Kim would go to New York early next month but said he was unsure of the reason.

"It is probably for the purpose of the joint working group but no date has been set for that meeting," the official said.

At six-nation talks in Beijing on Feb. 13, the communist state agreed to shut down and then disable its nuclear facilities in phases.

In return, Pyongyang would receive up to one million tonnes of heavy fuel oil or equivalent economic aid.

As part of the deal the US and North Korea agreed to start talking about establishing full diplomatic relations.

Five working groups are due to meet within 30 days to start planning how to implement it.

Yonhap news agency reported Kim was expected to hold talks with the US' head negotiator, Christopher Hill, in New York.

Hill cautioned on Thursday that there was a "long way to go" to implement the deal and said difficult negotiations still lie ahead on a suspected uranium enrichment project that Washington believes Pyongyang is concealing.

He said the North Koreans had not acknowledged such a program.

"But they have been willing to discuss what we know and to try to resolve this," he said.

Critics have complained the Beijing pact does not address North Korea's existing plutonium stockpile or nuclear bombs, or its suspected uranium program.

US Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday while visiting Australia the deal was a step towards a better future for North Koreans.

Cheney said however: "We go into this deal with our eyes open. In light of North Korea's missile tests last July, its nuclear test in October and its record of proliferation and human rights abuses, the regime in Pyongyang has much to prove."

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