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Kelly: US Has 'No Intention' on Invading North Korea - 2004-02-25

The U.S. delegate at North Korean nuclear talks says the United States has no plans to invade North Korea. His comments came as opening statements as six-nation talks got under way in Beijing in an effort to resolve the 18-month dispute over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

Delegates from China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States gathered at Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse and joined hands before sitting down at the negotiations table.

All six delegates gave opening statements, starting with China, the host. Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke of his nation's intense diplomatic efforts over the past six months to bring all sides together. Mr. Wang told delegates the flurry of diplomacy was good preparation for these talks, and helped in understanding the matters at hand.

At issue in these negotiations are demands by the United States and North Korea's neighbors for Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs. North Korea proposes a freeze in exchange for security guarantees and economic aid.

A first round of six-way talks ended inconclusively in August.

Plans for this second round of negotiations had been stalled for months due to what diplomats said were suspicions on all sides.

North Korea has said it is developing a nuclear arsenal to protect itself from a U.S. attack.

In opening statements, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly said the United States has no intention to invade North Korea.

Mr. Kelly, however, restated the U.S. position that North Korea must verifiably dismantle all of its nuclear programs - both the plutonium-based weapons program that Pyongyang has admitted to having and the uraniam-based program that the U.S. alleges North Korea has.

The North Korean delegate, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gwe Gwan, said he hoped for a good outcome. He said he hopes that through these diplomatic efforts, there can be a positive result.

The talks are expected to last about three days, but no official timetable has been set. U.S. officials say they hope that allowing more time to go over matters will increase chances for progress in ending the 18-month dispute.