Tue, May 06, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Six-party talks on North Korean nuclear program could resume later this month

AGENCIES , SEOUL

A US State Department envoy’s visit to Pyongyang this week could help set the stage for six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs later this month, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said yesterday.

North Korea failed to disclose an inventory of its nuclear activities when it was due on Dec. 31, slowing the implementation of a 2005 deal under which Pyongyang pledged to abandon all nuclear programs in return for aid and diplomatic recognition.

The State Department’s Sung Kim, who last visited the communist state’s capital late last month, is expected to wrap up coordination on the nuclear declaration, Yonhap said.

“Sung Kim plans to visit North Korea this week for detailed working-level talks on the nuclear declaration report,” Yonhap quoted an unnamed government source as saying.

Once the talks with the US envoy are finalized, North Korea is expected to submit the nuclear report to China, which then will distribute details to the countries involved in the six-nation talks, Yonhap said.

“Unless an unexpected variable shows up, it is possible to hold a six-party meeting late this month,” the source told Yonhap.

Pyongyang’s delay in the declaration of its activities was partly the result of reluctance to discuss any suspected transfer of nuclear technology to Syria and to account for its suspected pursuit of uranium enrichment, analysts have said.

Last month the US released intelligence about suspected North Korea-Syria nuclear collusion in a move US President George W. Bush said was aimed partly at putting pressure on Pyongyang.

Pyongyang denies the activities. Under a reported deal, it will merely “acknowledge” US concerns about the two issues in a confidential document to Washington.

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