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N. Korean Nuclear Disarmament Talks Continue for 12th Day


The North Korean nuclear disarmament talks have stretched into their 12th day in Beijing. Diplomats say North Korea is still resisting demands that it dismantle all of its nuclear programs, and the U.S. envoy says time is running out.

Top diplomats say the six-country talks will likely end no later than Monday, with or without an agreement.

Chief U.S. envoy Christopher Hill spoke to reporters late Friday night.

"Well, we had another long day," he said. " [We] made a little progress, but I must say, we didn't make enough progress. Frankly, I think we're going to have to pick up the pace, if we're going to get there."

The talks are continuing Saturday, with the U.S. delegation meeting the Chinese in the morning and a meeting scheduled with the North Korean delegation later in the day.

Negotiations have been focused on Chinese proposals for a joint statement of principles from all six delegations, but, so far, they have deadlocked over North Korea's insistence it will not give up non-military nuclear activities.

If a joint statement cannot be agreed upon, diplomats say, two other options remain.

The Chinese hosts can issue a so-called chairman's statement, officially ending the talks, without an accepted framework for North Korea's disarmament.

Mr. Hill said a second option would be calling a recess, putting the talks on hold, but agreeing to return to the negotiating table within a relatively short period of time.

"The idea would be, we would take some time, and the delegations go back to their capitals, talk to some people, come back and solve the problem," he explained. "What you don't want to do, though, is have a recess, and then have the progress you've made - and I want to assure you there has been progress in this - and you don't want that progress to slip away."

The nuclear crisis started in 2002, after the United States claimed North Korea's Stalinist government was running a secret uranium enrichment program.

This is the fourth - and longest - round of talks. Little progress was reported in three previous rounds.

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