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NKorea willing to freeze nuclear facilities, SKorean envoy says

NKorea willing to freeze nuclear facilities, SKorean envoy says

North Korea expressed a willingness to freeze its nuclear facilities and allow international monitoring during talks last week as first steps toward dismantling its atomic program, South Korea's nuclear envoy said Wednesday.
The communist state, however, refused to discuss specifics, demanding that the United States first lift financial restrictions against it, Chun Yung-woo said of the six-party talks in Beijing that ended in a deadlock.
"What North Korea said it would do is to halt the operation (of its nuclear facilities) and allow monitoring by" the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Chun told KBS Radio.
"But the North said it would discuss (specific) issues like what it would demand in return" after Washington lifts financial restrictions it imposed on the North for its alleged counterfeiting of American currency and money laundering, Chun said.
The nuclear talks _ the first since the North's Oct. 9 nuclear test _ were aimed at working out the first steps toward implementing a 2005 accord in which the North pledged to dismantle its nuclear programs in exchange for security guarantees and aid.
But the five days of talks produced no breakthrough because the North repeatedly insisted that the U.S. lift the restrictions and stop blocking its access to international banking.
The negotiators from China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the U.S. even failed to set a date for a fresh round of talks, although they agreed the negotiations would continue "at the earliest opportunity"
Chun said there was no guarantee that the talks would reconvene in January.
Earlier Wednesday, the U.S. ambassador to Seoul urged North Korea Wednesday to take concrete steps toward denuclearization, reiterating that Washington is willing to normalize relations and provide economic and energy assistance in return.
"For all of these to happen, however, North Korea must live up to its side of the bargain," Alexander Vershbow said in a meeting with South Korean lawmakers.
Vershbow did not say whether the U.S. would lift its financial restrictions against the North. Washington has said the financial issue is a matter of law enforcement, not related to the nuclear talks.
The office of Choi Sung, a legislator of the ruling Uri Party, quoted the U.S. ambassador as saying the North should try to resolve the nuclear dispute before U.S. President George W. Bush's term expires at the end of 2008.


Updated : 2020-12-06 07:32 GMT+08:00