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US, Japan, South Korea Agree Not to Recognize Nuclear North Korea


Officials of the United States, Japan and South Korea, meeting on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific gathering in Hanoi, say they are making progress in scheduling another round of six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear programs. U.S. envoy Christopher Hill says the three have agreed they will not accept a nuclear North Korea.

The matter of North Korea's October 9 nuclear test is set to dominate the agenda when President Bush and 20 other leaders meet here for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on Saturday and Sunday.

U.S., Japanese and South Korean envoys met Wednesday. They said they discussed what they are ready to accept from North Korea, and while they did not reveal much, U.S. envoy Christopher Hill said all sides agree on what the end result should be.

"We've all made very clear that we don't accept North Korea as a nuclear state; that as far as we're concerned the issue is getting North Korea to honor its obligations under the September agreement, which is to be a non-nuclear state," said Hill.

In September of 2005, North Korea agreed in principle to give up its nuclear weapons programs in exchange for aid and security guarantees, but then boycotted further talks. Last month, it agreed to rejoin the talks - which officials say will likely be in December.

After the envoys from the three nations had met, the South Korean representative, Chung Yung-woo, told reporters the exact date of the next round of six-party negotiations is still under discussion.

"We had a couple of dates in mind and we will suggest to China what days they prefer," said Chung.

China is the host of the six-party talks, which also include Russia and, of course, North Korea itself. Both Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin are among the leaders due to attend the APEC summit.

North Korea is not a member of APEC, and its diplomats say they will not attend any of the meetings.

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