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North Korea Nuclear Disarmament Talks Resume

Delegates of six nations have resumed negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. Participants are hoping to move quickly toward an agreement of basic principles in their bid to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Representatives from Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States joined their Chinese hosts for a banquet Tuesday to resume talks that recessed last month. U.S. envoy Christopher Hill told reporters he hopes for quick progress this time, since all sides have already made their positions clear.

"We did spend 13 days working at this at the end of July, beginning of August, so I think the sense is that we should be able to wrap this up in a matter of days, not weeks," he said.

A key obstacle remains North Korea's insistence on maintaining a civilian nuclear program - a stance the United States rejects due to Pyongyang's past record of violating international agreements to not develop nuclear weapons.

Talks Wednesday will include a bilateral meeting between the U.S. and North Korean delegations.

These talks are the continuation of a fourth round of negotiations meant to resolve the dispute in which the United States and others demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons efforts. Previous rounds have failed to produce anything more than agreements to meet again.

The U.S. envoy ruled out a possibility that any of the other five participants would immediately agree to North Korea's demands to have a light-water reactor for producing electricity. He said South Korea's earlier offer to provide conventional electricity to the North should meet Pyongyang's needs.

"The notion that on top of this there should be another element of a light water reactor really goes beyond what the participants in the process have to offer," Mr. Hill said. "And, I want to stress that all the participants very much support - all five of us very much support - what's on the table today."

Chinese state media on Tuesday quoted the chief North Korean delegate as saying Pyongyang would "not accept" that the United States interfere with its right to engage in "peaceful nuclear activity."

Washington wants North Korea to give up its nuclear programs in a verifiable manner, saying its failure to do so will only prolong Pyongyang's international isolation.

North Korea has said it wants normalized relations with the United States.

In remarks to The New York Times newspaper this week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the North Koreans can expect to have "a road toward normalization of relations" with the United States if, they "make a strategic choice to give up" their nuclear weapons programs.