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SKorea nuclear envoy heads for talks in Washington

Kim Sook, South Korea's nuclear envoy, talks to the media upon his arrival from Beijing at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, May 15. Kim left Sunday for talks in Washington amid hopes that North Korea would soon submit a long-awaited declaration on its nuclear programme. Photo Courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) May 18, 2008
South Korea's chief nuclear envoy left Sunday for talks in Washington amid hopes that North Korea would soon submit a long-awaited declaration on its nuclear programme.

Kim Sook will take part in a trilateral meeting there with US nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill and Japanese counterpart Akitaka Saiki, a foreign ministry official said.

The meeting comes after Washington promised to send 500,000 tonnes of emergency food aid to North Korea under a new deal with Pyongyang, after shipments were suspended in 2006.

North Korea said the US move would help promote "understanding and confidence" between the two nations.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that "there is no connection" between the food aid and negotiations aimed at scrapping the North's nuclear programmes.

A US envoy returned from Pyongyang last week with some 18,000 pages of documents on the history of a plutonium bomb-making programme dating back to 1986.

Kim said last week that the next round of six-nation negotiations could be held in early June, after the North submits its declaration to talks host China.

Seoul and Washington will try to coax Japan to provide energy and economic aid to North Korea, Yonhap news agency said.

"The US will also seek the understanding of the Japanese government on its move to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism despite no progress in efforts to resolve the abduction issue," a government source was quoted as saying.

In return for an acceptable declaration, the United States has promised to to ease some of its sanctions against the hardline communist state.

The North, which staged its first nuclear test in October 2006, is disabling its reactor and other plants at Yongbyon under a deal reached last year with the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

But disputes over the declaration due last December 31 have blocked the start of the final phase of the process -- the permanent dismantling of the plants and the handover of all material.

The declaration is crucial to verifying that all material, including stockpiled plutonium which could be used for bomb-making, is accounted for.

In return for total denuclearisation, the North would receive energy aid, a lifting of US sanctions, the establishment of diplomatic relations with Washington and a formal peace treaty.

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NKorea likely to submit nuke declaration within few days: Seoul
Seoul (AFP) May 14, 2008
North Korea is expected to submit a long-awaited declaration on its nuclear programme within a few days and six-party disarmament talks may resume early next month, South Korea's foreign ministry said Wednesday.







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