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N. Korea Says Washington Will Drop It From List of Terrorism Sponsors


North Korea says the United States has promised to drop it from a list of nations that sponsor terrorism. A U.S. official a few days ago said only that the issue would be discussed at just-completed talks in Geneva on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. VOA's Kurt Achin has more from Seoul.

Official North Korean news media made the announcement Monday.

Getting off the list of nations that sponsor terrorism has long been a goal of the Pyongyang government. Nations on that list are subject to a variety of punitive sanctions by the United States. North Korea found itself on that list after several incidents, including a bombing in Burma in 1983 that killed several visiting South Korean cabinet members.

U.S. officials could not be reached Monday to confirm the North Korean reports.

On Friday, the top U.S. envoy to talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs said only that Washington is committed to starting the process of removing North Korea from the list.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters in Geneva, just before two days of meetings with the North Koreans, that part of the talks would be spent discussing the timing of such a move.

On Sunday, Hill and senior North Korean envoy Kim Kye Kwan said Pyongyang is ready to move to the next step in ending the North's nuclear weapons programs.

Kim says North Korea will declare all of its nuclear programs, and then disable them.

Kim did not give a timeframe for those actions in his public comments. However, Hill told reporters said it would be complete "by the end of the year."

Hill and Kim are their countries' chief negotiators in six-nation talks on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China also participate. The six are expected to meet this month in Beijing to discuss an agreement they signed in February.

Under the first phase, North Korea shut down its main nuclear facility in exchange for energy aid.

The second phase requires North Korea to declare all of its nuclear activities, including uranium-related programs that Pyongyang has never publicly admitted having. If that goes well, the United States and Japan have promised to work toward normalizing relations with the North.

U.S. envoy Hill says it is up to Pyongyang to decide whether that actually happens.

"We're not going to have a normalized relationship until we have a denuclearized North Korea. We're not going to have a normal relationship with a nuclear weaponed-North Korea," Hill said.

North Korea has tested a nuclear explosive and says it has nuclear arms, in violation of several international agreements it has made to not develop such weapons. For nearly four years, the United States and its negotiating partners have tried to persuade Pyongyang to end those programs in exchange for aid and other benefits.

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