06/21/2007, 00.00
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Pyongyang, surprise visit by US nuclear negotiator

Christopher Hill, who for years has been following the Stalinist regimes nuclear enrichment programme, has recently visited Japan, China and South Korea. The US state department hopes to speed up the peninsula’s denuclearization process.

Pyongyang (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Christopher Hill, chief us negotiator on the North Korean nuclear question made a surprise visit today to Pyongyang. According to the US State department this visit serves to speed up the peninsula’s denuclearization process.

Hill has been following the Stalinist regimes nuclear enrichment programme for years. In recent days he has visited Japan, China and South Korea: all partners in six party talks on nuclear disarmament, which includes Russia.

In February the six approved the shut down of the North’s nuclear reactors, but Kim Jong-il refused to comply with the agreement because 25 million dollars of government money were still frozen by Washington in a Macao bank.

Earlier this week the United States and Russia collaborated in freeing the funds, which are now in Pyongyang. Despite this no moves have been so far made to begin denuclearization.

According to some analysts, the closure of the nuclear reactors should begin next week, even if governments in Seoul and Tokyo have expressed their scepticism. Hill maintains that, “We don't want to have the six-party talks before we've [progressed] on shutting down the reactor.  The Chinese believe we should be able to do something early in July.”

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