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US Envoy Says N. Korea Meeting Useful; Hopes Six-Party Talks Resume Soon


The top U.S. envoy to the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program held a second meeting with his North Korean counterpart in Berlin Wednesday.

Christopher Hill says his talks with North Korea's top negotiator Kim Kye Gwan were "useful." Hill voiced his hope that the nations - China, United States, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and Japan - involved in the six-party talks could continue their meetings this month.

Hill notes, however, that host China will have to make the final decision of whether discussions can resume in the coming weeks.

Hill said that he met with Kim for six hours on Tuesday, and an hour and half Wednesday. The two envoys will meet once again on Thursday.

After that, Hill flies to Asia where he is scheduled to make stops in Seoul on Friday, Beijing on Saturday and Tokyo on Sunday.

South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon says U.S.-North Korea talks in Berlin may help revive a September 2005 agreement that offered economic aid and security guarantees to Pyongyang in return for its abandonment of nuclear weapons.

North Korea froze the deal in late 2005 to protest U.S. financial sanctions against North Korea-linked companies.

In comments to state-media. Russia's top negotiator, Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, urged the United States to lift the financial sanctions to help North Korea come back to the six-party talks with Russia, United States, South Korea, China and Japan.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey noted Wednesday that talks in Berlin were not centered on financial restrictions against the North. Instead, he said that the talks focused on preparing for the next round of negotiations.

Pyongyang carried out a nuclear test in October 2006, but returned to the negotiating table in December. Last month's talks ended with no sign of a breakthrough.

South Korea's Song says Pyongyang may be using the Berlin meetings to present its response to U.S. proposals made at the last round of six-party talks.

An analyst with the International Crisis Group, Peter Beck, says that if North Korea wants to improve its ailing economy, it has to make a deal.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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