U.S. nuclear envoy meets China on N. Korea talks

Other News Materials 6 September 2008 13:16 (UTC +04:00)

The top U.S. nuclear envoy met with his Chinese counterpart Saturday as part of the latest round of talks aimed at breaking a deadlock over verification of North Korea's nuclear programs, reported AP.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill met Wu Dawei, who represents China in six-nation negotiations that also involve both Koreas, Japan and Russia.

The efforts come as Pyongyang is taking steps that indicate it may be reversing its promised disarmament.

Hill, who met with South Korean and Japanese envoys on Friday, said the U.S. was willing to sit down again with representatives from the five other countries. He was scheduled to speak with the Russian ambassador in Beijing later Saturday.

"What we need to do is verify their nuclear declaration and we have put together a protocol that's based on international standards," Hill told reporters late Friday. "I think there's a lot of support within the six-party process for getting this done."

He said there were no plans for talks with North Korea before he heads back to Washington.

The North began moving disassembled parts of its main nuclear reactor back to the plutonium-producing facility this week, putting into action its threat to restore atomic facilities that had been partially disabled under a disarmament pact.

But Washington has played down the development, saying Pyongyang just moved some equipment out of storage and it has not yet started to "reconstruct, reintegrate this equipment back into the facility."

South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Sook, said before leaving for Beijing that he did not have information on whether Pyongyang had done more to undo its disarmament steps, beyond moving equipment out of storage and placing it near the atomic reactor at its Yongbyon plant.

North Korea says the United States has not held up its end of their disarmament deal -- a promise to remove the regime from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Washington says it will take the North off the list only after it complies fully with the disarmament requirements.

"We have publicly said on a number of occasions that we are prepared to complete our obligations as they complete theirs, but a declaration without a protocol is only half of the obligation," Hill said.

The North conducted an underground nuclear test blast in October 2006. It later agreed to disable the Yongbyon plant in exchange for aid and diplomatic concessions. Work began in November last year.