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China Presents Second Draft of Joint Statement to North Korean Nuclear Talks

  • Daniel Schearf

China has proposed a second draft of a joint declaration on ending North Korea's nuclear program after delegates from the six countries involved in talks in Beijing failed to agree on the wording of an initial proposal.

Envoys from the six nations met in Beijing on Monday for the seventh day to try to reach an agreement on a statement of basic principles - which they hope will lay the foundation for ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

The chief U.S. negotiator, Christopher Hill, says his team has identified concerns with the draft.

"My delegation did some internal discussions about it, looking at it, seeing what points we're more pleased with, what points we're still concerned about. And so, we'll begin the drafting process again," he said.

Mr. Hill was talking about a second draft statement proposed by host China late Sunday.

The major obstacle to an agreement remains the issue of timing. North Korea wants aid and security assurances from the other countries involved in the talks - the United States, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and China - as well as normalized relations with the United States, before it will agree to nuclear disarmament.

The United States insists verifiable disarmament must come first. Washington has stressed that North Korea has broken a number of previous international agreements to be nuclear free and action is needed in addition to promises.

In another sign this fourth round of talks is more productive than the three previous negotiations, Pyongyang said Sunday it would rejoin the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and accept international inspections again if the current standoff is resolved.

North Korea agreed to return to a fourth round of negotiations in July after more than a year of boycotting talks. Pyongyang announced its return after South Korea promised to supply all its electricity needs in exchange for progress in settling the nuclear dispute.

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