June 21, 2008

North Korea to Appear at Six-Way Talks, Submit Nuclear Declaration – USA Official

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

WASHINGTON, June 20 (Yonhap) - North Korea will soon present a declaration of its nuclear programmes and appear at a fresh round of multilateral talks to end its nuclear ambitions, a State Department spokesman said Friday.

Sean McCormack, however, would not give the exact date for the resumption of the six-party talks stalled over the North's failure to present a full and complete declaration of its nuclear programmes and activities by the end of last year.

Reports said Pyongyang will present the declaration to China, host of the six-party talks also involving the two Koreas, the US, Japan and Russia, next week so the new round of nuclear talks could occur in early July.

"We have indications that it will be soon, although we do not yet have another head-of-delegation meeting scheduled," McCormack told a daily news briefing. "And presumably that would be the venue in which the North Koreans would hand over to the Chinese a declaration."

The top US nuclear negotiator, Christopher Hill, also said in Beijing Friday that the multilateral nuclear talks will resume "soon."

Hill said he met with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, Friday and will meet him again Monday to discuss resumption of the long- overdue nuclear talks, which critics say will lose momentum within a few months due to the November presidential election to replace the George W. Bush administration.

The Bush administration has been engaging with North Korea for the past couple of years to persuade the North to abandon its nuclear arsenal and programmes, although Bush had shunned dealing with the North since his first administration was launched in 2000 while dubbing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il [Kim Cho'ng-il] a tyrant and the North as part of an "axis of evil."

Under growing pressure from the worsening situation in Iraq and Iran's nuclear ambitions, Bush apparently expects North Korea to serve as his only foreign policy achievement during his eight-year tenure, which expires in January.

Reports said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may visit Pyongyang in time for the blast of a cooling tower of the North's nuclear facility in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, a symbolic gesture to show the North's commitment to denuclearization. Next week she is scheduled to tour Seoul and Beijing on the occasion of her attendance at a G-8 ministerial meeting in Tokyo.

McComack flatly dismissed the report, saying, "Secretary Rice is not going to Pyongyang."

The spokesman, however, would not preclude Hill's possible meeting with North Koreans in Beijing. "There is a possibility."

Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 2040 20 Jun 08.

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