09/14/2005, 00.00
NORTH KOREA

Still uncertainty at six-nation nuclear talks

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After a month hiatus, six-nation nuclear talks resumed in Beijing yesterday with envoys from China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas.

With Pyongyang insisting on its right to develop atomic energy for peaceful use and the US arguing that the guarantees offered by North Korea are insufficient, chances for a possible breakthrough remain slim.

For chief North Korean negotiator Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea would not tolerate any obstruction to its right to a peaceful nuclear programme.  "This right is neither awarded nor needs to be approved by others," Mr Kim said. But his country "would attend the talks with a flexible attitude".

Chief US negotiator Christopher said: "We have a good idea of what their position is. Their position does seem to be wrong, but evolving."

In August, North Korean diplomats met their US counterpart in New York but made little progress.

Last week, Mr Hill reiterated a set of measures—including energy aid offered by South Korea—that would make it unnecessary for North Korea to pursue nuclear energy.

South Korea urged envoys to be as open-minded as possible and Japan's top envoy, Kenichiro Sasae, said it was important that North Korea "shows its determination in detail regarding the dismantling of their nuclear programmes".

"If this happens, I think it is possible that we could be more flexible in discussing North Korea's interests as the next step," he said.

The latest nuclear standoff was sparked in late 2002 after US officials accused North Korea of running a secret uranium-enrichment programme in violation of an earlier deal. North Korea has since denied the allegations and yesterday said they were "a concoction cooked up by the US".

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