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Six-party nuclear talks set to go ahead: minister

North Korea, which tested an atomic weapon in October 2006, insists it never agreed to samples of atomic material being taken away. The US insists that it did and that the procedure is crucial to verification.
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Dec 4, 2008
Six-nation talks on scrapping North Korea's nuclear programme are expected to resume Monday as scheduled even though host China has not confirmed the date, South Korea's foreign minister said Thursday.

"Since the six parties have all agreed to resume the talks on December 8, I expect them to resume as scheduled," Yu Myung-Hwan told a briefing.

The US and North Korean nuclear envoys, Christopher Hill and Kim Kye-Gwan, were holding talks Thursday in Singapore to prepare for the next round.

They are trying to agree on ways in which outside inspectors can verify whether the North is telling the truth about its nuclear history.

The US and the North differ on what was agreed when Hill made a trip to Pyongyang from October 1-3 to try to save a shaky February 2007 disarmament deal.

After reaching an apparent agreement on verification procedures, the US announced it would drop the North from a terrorism blacklist, and the North reversed plans to restart its plutonium-producing nuclear plants.

However North Korea, which tested an atomic weapon in October 2006, insists it never agreed to samples of atomic material being taken away. The US insists that it did and that the procedure is crucial to verification.

Yu said the six-party meeting -- grouping the two Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan -- would try to clarify arrangements to verify the North's nuclear declaration delivered in June.

It would also fix timetables for completion of disablement work at the North's Yongbyon complex, and the delivery of the remainder of the energy aid which the other five parties promised as compensation.

"What is important is the six parties, first of all, have to reach a consensus on the sampling and the 'scientific procedure' that the United States and North Korea agreed on," Yu said.

"If such a consensus is reached, it should be documented in whatever form it is. That's the basic position of South Korea, the United States and Japan."

The US, Japanese and South Korean nuclear envoys met in Tokyo earlier in the week to coordinate their stance.

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SKorea braces for provocation by NKorea: defence ministry
Seoul (AFP) Dec 3, 2008
South Korean troops are on guard against any military provocation by North Korea after the communist state ordered a border clampdown amid worsening ties, the defence ministry said Wednesday.







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