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Ban Hails Signs Six-Party North Korea Nuclear Talks Will Resume Soon

UN chief Ban Ki-moon - AFP image

Japan demands NKorea shut reactor
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 19 - Japan on Friday demanded that North Korea close its nuclear facility and allow UN inspectors to visit as it prepares for another round of six-nation disarmament talks. Foreign Minister Taro Aso also rejected North Korea's demands for the United States to lift sanctions on a bank accused of money-laundering on behalf of the impoverished regime.

"The conditions are that North Korea accept inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and close its nuclear test facility," Aso told reporters. US financial sanctions "have nothing to do with the six-party talks. That is a separate issue," Aso said.

North Korea in 2002 expelled inspectors from the UN atomic watchdog and restarted its Yongbyon facility, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium, after the United States accused Pyongyang of secret nuclear activity. North Korea last month returned to six-nation talks -- involving China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States -- after carrying out its first nuclear test.

US negotiator Christopher Hill, who was in Seoul Friday after meeting his North Korean counterpart in Berlin, said he expected six-way negotiations to resume before mid-February. Hill will visit Tokyo on Saturday for talks with his Japanese counterpart Kenichiro Sasae. Aso said he was unsure when the talks would start. "We don't have a clear view on when North Korea will come to participate in the talks. We have no idea when the next talks will be held."

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the parties concerned should make six-way talks "fruitful" if they are resumed. "I have given instructions that close consultations with the United States and other countries must be made in an effort to make a new round fruitful with North Korea taking concrete action toward dismantling its nuclear arms," Abe told reporters at his office. Japan has tense relations with North Korea and Abe has pursued a hard line against the communist state.

by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) Jan 19, 2007
UN chief Ban Ki-moon welcomes signs that six-nation talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program are set to resume soon, and he is encouraged by recent positive talks between US and North Korean negotiators, his spokeswoman said Friday.

"The secretary general welcomes reports of active preparations for the next round of the six-party talks on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," spokeswoman Michele Montas said.

"He is encouraged in particular by the recent positive discussions between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and United States negotiators," she said in a statement.

US negotiator Christopher Hill, who has just had three days of talks in Berlin with his Pyongyang counterpart Kim Kye-Gwan, said Friday that North Korea and the United States had agreed to resume the six-nation process soon and would meet separately to discuss US financial sanctions on the Stalinist state.

Montas said Ban urged all those involved in the six-party process -- the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia -- "to redouble their efforts" toward implementation of a 2005 blueprint to get North Korea to scrap its nuclear program in exchange for economic and energy benefits as well as security guarantees.

Speaking in Seoul at the start of a regional tour, Hill said he expected nuclear discussions to restart before the Lunar New Year holiday, which begins on February 17 in Korea, with US-North Korean financial talks taking place as early as next week.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Ex-US Defense Chief Suggests Military Action Against North Korea
Washington (AFP) Jan 18, 2007
The United States should consider military action against North Korea if China and South Korea refuse to prod Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program, former US defense secretary William Perry proposed Thursday.

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