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US nuclear envoy in talks barrage on North Korea

world Updated: Jan 09, 2008 10:23 IST

Top US nuclear envoy Christopher Hill on Wednesday launched a barrage of talks here as Washington and Seoul push for a quick resumption of talks on dismantling North Korea's atomic arsenal.

Hill, who arrived in Seoul Tuesday, met a series of current and future officials ahead of South Korea's change of government next month.

He has urged Pyongyang to provide a complete list of its nuclear programmes -- a key sticking point slowing down the six-nation disarmament process.

North Korea missed a December 31 deadline to disable its main nuclear facilities and give a full declaration of its atomic programmes in return for economic aid under a deal agreed a year ago at the six-party talks.

Hill's visit comes at a delicate time with Seoul preparing for a new conservative government after a decade of liberal rule.

He met Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon over breakfast Wednesday before seeing President Roh Moo-Hyun and his key foreign policy advisor, according to sources at the foreign ministry and the US embassy here.

"They exchanged opinions on the future directions of US-South Korean alliance and North Korea's nuclear issue," a source, which did not want to be named, said after the "informal" breakfast meeting.

Hill then met Park Geun-Hye, an influential Grand National Party politician, and held a separate meeting with Park Jin, a GNP lawmaker in charge of a new foreign policy for president-elect Lee Myung-Bak.

Details on the closed-door discussion were not disclosed.

The US envoy will meets president-elect Lee, who has signalled a tougher line on the North, on Thursday.

"We would look forward to having a very close relationship with the next government," he said upon arrival here Tuesday, stressing the need for a strong US-South Korea alliance to resolve the nuclear issue.

Hill had already met Seoul's chief nuclear negotiator Chun Yung-Woo late Tuesday.

The six-party talks began in 2003 after a US-North Korea nuclear disarmament deal broke down in 2002. North Korea carried out its first atomic test in October 2006 before returning to the talks also involving China, Japan and Russia.