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US Hopes For North Korea Nuclear Deal By September

Pyongyang should decide to "get out of this weapons business and get into the business of providing electricity for their citizens, North Korea is one of the darkest countries in terms of electricity," Hill said.

Washington (AFP) Aug 10, 2005
The United States said Wednesday it hoped for a deal to end the North Korea crisis as early as September, but warned Pyongyang must make the key decision to get out of the "nuclear weapons business."

Christopher Hill, US envoy to the six party negotiations due to resume in Beijing at the end of the month, also rebuffed the Stalinist state's demand for the right to maintain a civilian nuclear program.

A fourth round of six-party talks which recessed Sunday after stretching 13 days in Beijing, had tried to work towards an agreement of principles to speed the way to a permanent deal, Hill said.

"We tried to focus on trying to reach an agreement on principles so we could use those principles to shape the way ahead and try to reach an agreement as early as September.

"We are hoping that if we can get through these principles, we can get going with an actual agreement in September, or the latest in October and see if we can finally put this terrible problem to bed," Hill told reporters.

Hill was speaking a day after North Korea's chief negotiator said the United States must be the party to budge, in order to clinch a deal to end the four year crisis over its nuclear program.

"If the US really wants to make substantial progress in the Korean Peninsula's nuclear issue, it had better make up its mind to change its policy," negotiator Kim Kye-gwan said.

Talks are apparently deadlocked on North Korea's desire for civilian nuclear power plants - a step the United States says is unacceptable given Pyongyang's failure to contain such a program to peaceful purposes in the past.

"No one's building a light water reactor. These are rather expensive things, I mean we're talking talking billions of dollars. So that's not happening," Hill said.

Under a 1994 deal known as the Agreed Framework, which ended a previous weapons showdown, the United States agreed to provide fuel for North Korea until an international consortium built nuclear power reactors.

Washington contends Pyongyang infringed on that deal, by mounting a program to enrich uranium - a move which triggered the current crisis.

The current talks aim to dismantle the North's nuclear programme in exchange for diplomatic, economic benefits and security guarantees.

South Korea has reportedly agreed to supply its isolated neighbour with large supplies of electricity should it renounce nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang should decide to "get out of this weapons business and get into the business of providing electricity for their citizens, North Korea is one of the darkest countries in terms of electricity," Hill said.

But he cautioned that the supposed sticking point of Pyongyang's demand for Light Water Reactors, should not be seen as the only thing holding up a deal.

"Don't assume that this one issue of so-called civilian use is the only issue out there," Hill, assistant secretary of State for Asia and Pacific Affairs, said at the briefing for foreign reporters.

"None of these issues is agreed unless all of them are agreed. We have a lot of issues in the air that we need to hold together."

The talks, involving Russia, China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and North Korea are due to resume in the week of August 29 in Beijing.

Separately Wednesday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy told reporters that the Bush administration remained "hopeful" for an agreement.

"But North Korea needs to make a strategic decision to set aside its ambition for nuclear weapons," Duffy said.

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Koreas Edge Toward Military Confidence
Seoul (UPI) Aug 10, 2005
South and North Korea took a significant step toward easing military tensions Wednesday as they set up their first cross-border military hotline and conducted a trial run in an effort to avoid accidental armed clashes.

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