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S Korea welcomes NKorea nuke declaration

South Korea on Thursday welcomed North Korea's long-awaited declaration of its nuclear activities, calling it a "crucial starting point" for complete disarmament.

world Updated: Jun 26, 2008 17:45 IST

South Korea on Thursday welcomed North Korea's long-awaited declaration of its nuclear activities, calling it a "crucial starting point" for complete disarmament.

The document was delivered by Choe Jin-Su, the North's ambassador to Beijing, to the Chinese foreign ministry.

"Our government welcomes (the declaration)," South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan told reporters.

"It will provide a foundation for the next stage, of nuclear dismantlement."

The declaration and the North's planned demolition Friday of the cooling tower at its Yongbyon reactor is "a crucial starting point for substantial progress" towards full denuclearisation, Yu said.

Kim Sook, Seoul's chief envoy to six-nation denuclearisation talks, said the declaration will help the international community learn exactly how much bomb-making plutonium the North has produced at its Yongybon complex.

But he and Yu said they are not fully satisfied with the 60-page document since it does not contain details on nuclear weapons.

US nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill said earlier that the weapons would be addressed in the next phase of the six-party process which began in 2003.

"I have an unsatisfied feeling as North Korea's nuclear weapons were not included," Kim said.

But he added that although the document was belated -- it was promised by the end of last year -- "it is very meaningful as it will become an important starting point for substantial progress."

The six-party forum groups the two Koreas, host China, the United States, Russia and Japan.