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Rice Meets North Korean Counterpart in Six-Party Talks on North Korea 


Foreign ministers from the six nations involved in the North Korean nuclear disarmament talks have ended their long-anticipated meeting Wednesday in Singapore.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice greeted Pak Ui Chun, her North Korean counterpart, at the start of Wednesday's meeting on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations forum. It was Rice's first face-to-face meeting with Pak.

Rice told reporters after the session that it was "a good meeting, no surprises."

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi described the talks as "quite significant" in opening remarks, because it shows the six nations have the political will to move the process forward.

The six foreign ministers, including those from Japan, South Korea, and Russia, were expected to focus on a draft proposal to verify Pyongyang's declaration of its nuclear activities, submitted last month after a six-month delay.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said his country hoped the meeting would provide "a new impetus" among the six nations to verify Pyongyang's declaration. But a North Korean spokesman, Ri Tong Il, says it is also important for the U.S. to drop what he describes as a "hostile policy" towards his country.

During talks held earlier this month, Pyongyang agreed to disable its main plutonium-producing facilities by the end of October, and allow on-site inspections to verify its declaration.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the chief American negotiator for the talks, says he hopes there can be an agreement on the verification issue by mid-August.

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

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