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N Korea asked to get serious on nuclear issue

india Updated: Dec 22, 2006 11:53 IST

The US envoy to the six-party talks on North Korea asked Pyongyang to get serious on the issue of "denuclearisation" as the last round of the current phase of talks got underway on Friday.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Christopher Hill told reporters before that he is "not aware" of "any sign" of breakthrough in the current six-party talks.

He said he will have bilateral consultation with the Chinese delegation on Friday.

"Today is the last day of the talks," Hill said, adding he is scheduled to leave Beijing on Saturday.

The second phase of the talks moved on to the fifth day today.

The ongoing talks focus on the implementation of the joint statement, issued on September 19, 2005 under which North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear programme in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.

However, the six-party talks involving North Korea, the United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia has been stalled since Monday with Pyongyang insisting that Washington revoke the economic sanctions on it for alleged money laundering.

Asked whether another round of talks will be held in the future, Hill said "we will see the progress, and see whether it is valuable."

"Our purpose is denuclearisation. We'll have to evaluate this round in terms of whether we move towards the goal," Hill said.

Hill urged North Korea to engage in discussions on the denuclearisation and implementation of the joint statement struck in September 2005, instead of financial issues.

"It is not the time for them (the DPRK) to talk financial issues," Hill said last night.

He said he knew North Korea was interested in Banco Delta Asia, a Macao-based bank, "but we prefer them to have an even greater interest in denuclearisation."

Hill said the North Korean delegates have had strict instructions from their capital that they can not engage officially on the subject of the six-party talks until they have the BDA issue resolved." "I have made very clear I am not a BDA negotiator," Hill said.

The ongoing talks focus on the implementation of the joint statement, financial sanction imposed on North Korea, however, was one of the key stumbling blocks that had stalled the six-party talks for the past 13 months.

North Korea has held fast to its demand that the US stop its restrictions on a Macau bank linked with the communist regime.

The Macao-based Banco Delta Asia (BDA), accused of helping Pyongyang's financial crimes, has been under the US investigation for more than a year, freezing North Korea's 24 million US dollars worth of accounts in the bank.

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary Daniel Glaser left here today for home after holding talks with President of North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank O Kwang Chol Glaser said he would possibly meet the North Koreans next month in New York.

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