US delegation travels to Pyongyang for nuclear talks

Business Materials 22 April 2008 13:50 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - A US delegation crossed the heavily fortified inter-Korean border Tuesday to travel to Pyongyang for talks on its pledge to declare its nuclear activities and programmes, A US embassy spokesman said in Seoul.

Sung Kim, director of the US State Department's Office of Korea Affairs and leader of the group, said after his arrival Monday in Seoul that he expected "very detailed discussions" in Pyongyang on the declaration.

"We, of course, hope to have significant progress on this visit," he said.

Also part of the delegation was officials with the National Security Council and Defence and Energy departments, the embassy said.

The visit to Pyongyang came after North Korea's and the United States' top nuclear negotiators met two weeks ago in Singapore. They both spoke of making progress although a breakthrough wasn't achieved on the declaration, the current sticking point of six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programmes.

The United States insists North Korea has failed to fulfil its promise to submit a complete declaration. However, US newspaper reports last week indicated that the United States was prepared to relax demands that North Korea admit to a uranium-enrichment programme and to offering nuclear assistance to Syria.

Instead, North Korea would "acknowledge" US concerns that Pyongyang shared nuclear technology with the Syrians in a compromise aimed at breaking the impasse in the talks, The New York Times reported Friday.

In return, North Korea would be removed from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism and would be exempted from the Trading with the Enemy Act, the Times said.

The issue has stalled the six-nation talks involving North and South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia since the end of last year. As part of those talks, Pyongyang agreed to declare its nuclear programme and dismantle its nuclear facilities in return for energy and economic aid.