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N Korea buying time before negotiations: US

US Assistant Secretary of State called six-nation nuclear negotiations the best chance to solve the problem.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 10:16 IST

The top US envoy says the communist-led country seems to thrive on isolation and is "buying time" before returning to negotiations.

US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, in a speech at a Washington think tank, called six-nation nuclear negotiations the "best chance" to solve the problem.

He also suggested North Korea had strong reservations about scrapping its nuclear programme, which it had pledged in a landmark September 19 agreement to do in return for aid and security assurances. It quickly backtracked.

"The question we all ask ourselves is that for a country that seems to thrive on its isolation, that seems to thrive on the sense of being surrounded by enemies -- whether a country that seems, in a perverse way, to be so pleased to be so isolated, whether what we have on offer is in fact what they want to take," Hill said.

The six-nation nuclear talks last were held in November but have been deadlocked since, in part over financial restrictions Washington has issued for alleged North Korean counterfeiting and weapons proliferation.

The North has said it will not return until Washington ends the restrictions; Washington says the financial actions are a criminal issue unrelated to the nuclear issue.

North Korea said on Tuesday it wanted to make progress in the nuclear talks. It also vowed to strengthen its stockpile of atomic weapons to counter what it called extreme US hostility.

First Published: Feb 02, 2006 10:16 IST