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New US president to maintain nuclear talks with NKorea

China says NKorea nuke talks to be held soon
China said Thursday that six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programme would take place soon, after a US move put the North's denuclearisation process back on track. "The relevant parties have agreed to hold the next round of six-party talks at the earliest convenient time," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters. "At present China is keeping communication and coordination with other parties about the specific date for the next round of meetings." However, Jiang gave no specific indication on when the talks would be held. North Korea recently resumed its participation in the denuclearisation process, after the United States met its commitment under a six-nation pact made last year and removed the Stalinist country from a list of terrorism sponsors. The deal -- between China, Japan, the United States, Russia, and the two Koreas -- had been stalled over disagreements on how to verify a Pyongyang declaration of all its nuclear activities handed over as part of the agreement. The United States said that before agreeing to remove North Korea from its terrorist blacklist, it got everything it wanted on outside inspections to verify the North's nuclear activities. However, critics say the secretive communist state will still be able to hide some of its programmes.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 30, 2008
US President George W. Bush's successor is expected to continue using a six-nation forum to disband North Korea's nuclear weapons network, but will emphasise tracking down its proliferation record.

Aides to presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain said that disarming North Korea of its nuclear weapons through the six-party talks would be a top priority in the first few weeks of the new administration.

North Korea has shut down and nearly disabled its key nuclear reactor complex at Yongbyon under the five-year-old multilateral talks chaired by China and comprising the United States, Russia, the two Koreas and Japan.

An initial dispute over the verification of North Korea's declared nuclear program and proliferation activities was resolved earlier this month when the United States removed the reclusive state from a terrorism blacklist.

But the six nations have yet to endorse a protocol for North Korea to fully verify its nuclear record.

"The first thing that has to happen is we need to have a six party meeting to formalize the verification protocol and get verification underway," Frank Jannuzi, a foreign policy advisor in Obama's campaign, said at a forum Wednesday when asked about the first steps to be taken by any new president on the North Korean nuclear crisis.

"So that is a procedural step that may happen before the next president takes office, hopefully," he said. "If it doesn't, it will be one of the first...business for the new president."

McCain, although critical of Bush's decision to delist North Korea from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, is expected to retain the six-party forum but with greater US consultations with key Asian allies Japan and South Korea, his aides said.

"I would not advocate halting the six party process completely but I think that there is going to have to be some top-down strategic rethinking beginning with our allies and obviouly talking to China," said Michael Green, a key Asia advisor to McCain.

"Our allies will have a special place, they are more shaken than anyone else by some of the recent developments," he said, referring particularly to Japan's unhappiness over Washington's removal of North Korea from the terrorism list.

Tokyo had wanted the United States to maintain North Korea on the list until it fully accounts for the fate of Japanese civilians it kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s -- a highly emotional issue in Japan.

Jannuzi said however that the United States still had "lots of leverage" on North Korea despite dropping it from the terror list.

The action had "zero impact on frozen North Korea financial assets, zero impact on North Korea's access to international lending and zero impact on North Korea's economic circumstances," he said.

"I'm somewhat cautiously more optimistic about the issue of verification," said Januzzi, a staff member of the US Senate committee on foreign relations.

Obama and McCain seemed to on the same page on bringing North Korea to account for its nuclear proliferation activities.

The United States has accused North Korea of helping Syria build a covert nuclear reactor for military purposes until Israel reportedly destroyed it in a a September 2007 raid.

North Korea has also been charged with running a secret uranium enrichment program.

The North denies both activities.

Commenting on the alleged North Korean proliferation links with Syria, Green said Pyongyang had "crossed a red line" and they had to be thoroughly investigated.

He accused the Bush administration of "sending a signal to North Korea that we don't care about this issue" by removing it from the terrorism blacklist.

Januzzi called the proliferation accusation "a very serious issue.

"The US is going to expect North Korea to provide clarity and if we get it, we will be able to move forward and if we don't, we are going to have to reassess and sort with our allies in the six-party process on what to do with that," he said.

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NKorea threatens to suspend complex over leaflets
Seoul (AFP) Oct 27, 2008
North Korea threatened Monday to evict South Koreans from a joint industrial complex in protest at cross-border propaganda, as activists launched balloons loaded with leaflets denouncing the communist state.







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