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North and South Korea Continue to Negotiate at Economic Talks


North and South Korean officials continued to negotiate Saturday, hours after they were due to wrap up four days of economic talks.

The two sides were expected to issue a joint statement hours ago in the North's capital, Pyongyang. But reports say South Korea first wants the North to commit to honoring its nuclear disarmament pledge.

Officials also are discussing details of food aid, test-runs of cross border trains and other joint projects.

The discussions also include North Korea's request for 400,000 tons of rice.

Reports say the two sides are close to an agreement for the South to provide raw materials to the North to produce clothing, shoes and soap. In exchange, the South wants access to natural resources in the North.

The series of meetings got off to a tense start last week. South Korean reports said North Korea's chief envoy at the talks stormed out of the opening session to protest the South Korean delegation's call for the North to disarm.

Seoul offered to resume talks with Pyongyang in February, after North Korea agreed to begin closing its nuclear facilities. But North Korea missed an April 14 deadline to begin that process, saying it is waiting for a financial conflict with the United States to be resolved.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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