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US Envoy Says No Breakthroughs at North Korea Nuclear Talks

The chief U.S. negotiator at the six-party talks in Beijing that are aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program says there were no breakthroughs after his first bilateral meeting with his North Korean counterpart. From the Chinese capital, Roger Wilkison reports on the second day of the latest round of negotiations.

U.S. envoy Christopher Hill looked weary as he returned to his hotel after a long day of negotiations, including his first face-to-face meeting with North Korea's Kim Kye Gwan.

Hill and negotiators from China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea are trying to get North Korea to implement a pledge it made under a joint statement by the six in September 2005 to scrap its nuclear weapons in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

"We do not have any breakthroughs to report," he said. "I would say though that it was a substantial discussion where we went through some really specific ideas as to how to get going on implementing the joint statement."

North Korea says it will not consider getting rid of its nuclear-weapons program until the United Nations lifts sanctions on the reclusive communist state that were imposed after North Korea conducted a nuclear test in October. It also wants the United States to end financial restrictions Washington imposed in late 2005 on a Macau bank that U.S. officials say helped Pyongyang with counterfeiting and money-laundering activities.

North Korean and U.S. officials met on the sidelines of the negotiations to discuss that issue, but the U.S. team leader said resolving the financial restrictions issue is a long-term process.

Hill, meanwhile, called on host China, ostensibly an ally of North Korea, to play a bigger role in pushing the North Koreans to fulfill their pledge to disarm. He refers to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK.

"To solve the problem of the DPRK's nuclear ambitions is going to require a great effort by China," he said. "The United States cannot do it. We cannot do it by ourselves. We need to work in this multilateral framework ... Frankly, we need all the six parties. But I would say the Chinese have a very special role to play."

Whatever influence the Chinese may have over North Korea, and they say it is limited, Pyongyang insists that it is already a nuclear power. And it appears that nothing that has been said in the framework of the six-party talks has made it want to abandon its nuclear-weapons program.