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N. Korean Nuclear Talks End in Beijing - 2003-08-29


Talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis have ended in Beijing, with all sides agreeing to meet again. Although no clear progress was made, the six countries at the table found some common ground.

No joint statement was issued after the talks concluded, but China's lead negotiator says all sides agreed on some key points.

Deputy Foreign Minister Wang Yi says the participants agreed that the Korean Peninsula should be nuclear-free, and that North Korea's security concerns should be addressed.

The three-day talks brought together representatives of China, North and South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia. They discussed demands by the United States and others that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program, which violates several international accords.

Political analysts early on said they expected no immediate or concrete breakthrough, only an agreement to meet again. Deputy Foreign Minister Wang says a second round of talks is one of the things agreed on, although no date or location was set.

Mr. Wang says all sides agreed the six-party talks should continue and the time and date should be decided through diplomatic channels, as soon as possible.

North Korea's official news agency on Friday said Pyongyang presented what it called a package of solutions. In the package, it offered to give up its nuclear program in exchange for a non-aggression pact with the United States and guarantees of economic cooperation from Japan and South Korea.

The United States has ruled out signing a formal non-aggression pact, but has offered a written assurance that it has no plans to attack North Korea.

Despite the consensus at the talks and an agreement to work for a diplomatic solution, North Korea threatened to increase the size of its "nuclear deterrent," if the United States does not accept its proposals.

The nuclear crisis began last October, when the United States said that North Korea admitted having a secret nuclear weapons program. Since then, North Korea has withdrawn from the global nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and restarted a nuclear facility that can produce fuel for weapons.

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