US and North Korean envoys set for nuclear talks in Singapore

Business Materials 7 April 2008 13:44 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Negotiators for the United States and North Korea were set to meet Tuesday in Singapore, raising hopes of progress in stalled nuclear talks with even the venue seen as a positive sign.

Although the US State Department cautioned against expecting too much from the talks, a diplomatic source said Monday that the willingness of North Korea's top nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye Gwan, to come to the city-state was an optimistic development.

His US counterpart, Christopher Hill, expressed hopes for "some progress" in Singapore before departing for the city-state from East Timor.

Hill is seeking to discuss North Korea's promised declaration of nuclear activities and programmes.

Under an aid-for-denuclearization deal, Pyongyang claimed it had provided a list months ago, but the United States said the declaration was not complete and failed to address suspicions over a uranium-enrichment programme and proliferation to Syria.

Washington regards disclosure of the entire programme as essential in the six-nation nuclear talks with North Korea that also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

"Singapore hopes both sides will have a good discussion that will move the six-party talks forward, leading to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Singapore's Foreign Ministry said.

Attempts to persuade North Korea to disarm have been deadlocked with Hill and Kim unable to break the impasse during March negotiations in Geneva.

Hill was scheduled to fly to Beijing for discussions with Chinese officials after the talks with Kim. China hosts the six-way talks.