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North Korea Nuclear Talks Begin to Focus on Fine Details

Diplomats have resumed talks on North Korea's nuclear programs in Beijing, hoping to finally agree on details of how to totally disable the country's nuclear facilities. VOA's Heda Bayron reports from our Asia News Center in Hong Kong.

The negotiators are hoping to map out the details of how North Korea can meet its declared intention to disclose and disable all of its nuclear facilities by the end of the year.

This week's discussions are expected to focus on two points. The first is how Pyongyang would verifiably and completely disable its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, which is currently closed down. The second is to set a timetable for the disclosure of all of the North's nuclear activities.

The nuclear talks began Thursday with the North Korean envoy, Kim Kye Kwan, indicating that his country is ready to make progress on the issues.

The chief U.S. envoy to the talks, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Christopher Hill, says that in general, Washington and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK, are "on the same wavelength." But he told reporters there are still differences to overcome.

"We'd like to do more, the DPRK wants to do less," he said. "We'll figure out a way through that. This is not big gap."

Both Hill and Kim said earlier that this week's talks would be a critical stage in the four-year denuclearization effort.

The negotiations - which also involve China, Japan, South Korea and Russia - reached a breakthrough in February. Pyongyang agreed in principle to scrap its nuclear facilities in exchange for fuel oil, food, fertilizer, plus security and diplomatic incentives.

That agreement came four months after the North conducted its first nuclear explosion.