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North Korea nuclear talks begin amid optimism

Pyongyang has expressed its readiness to discuss initial steps for disarmament.

world Updated:
Anil K Joseph
Anil K Joseph

The six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear programme began in Beijing on Thursday on an optimistic note with Pyongyang expressing readiness to discuss initial steps for disarmament but said any such moves would depend on the United States' attitude towards it.

North Korea has made due preparation for discussing initial steps of de-nuclearisation during the session of six-party talks, its top envoy Kim Kye-gwan said on arrival here for the third phase of negotiations involving North and South Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia.

"We are prepared to discuss first-stage measures...We are neither optimist nor pessimist because there are still a lot of problems to be resolved," Kim told reporters.

"We will judge the success of the talks by the standard that whether the United States will give up hostile policy and follow peaceful coexistence," he said.

Kim said his country hopes that the talks could bring agreements, however, it depends on the Americans. The previous phase, lasting five days, ended on December 22 without any progress.

The Korean envoy's comments assume significance as Pyonyang in December had refused to discuss disarmament.

North Korea has insisted that it will not scrap its nuclear programmes until the US lifts economic sanction prompted by accusations that Pyongyang ran dollar counterfeiting and other illicit business.

The latest round is likely to focus on persuading North Korea to first shut down its Yongbyon nuclear plant, a source of plutonium for its clandestine nuclear weapons programme.

First Published: Feb 09, 2007 18:42 IST