Accessibility links

Breaking News

With No Deal Yet, China Declares Final Day for North Korea Nuclear Talks


China, the host of six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear-weapons capabilities, says there will only be one more scheduled day of negotiations in Beijing. Delegates to the talks say excessive demands by North Korea are blocking a deal. VOA's Kurt Achin has more from Beijing.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill says China has scheduled the Beijing nuclear talks to conclude on Monday. He says he agrees with the decision.

"We have spent the last four days talking about one issue, and, I think, if we declared a deadline a week from now, we would probably spend the next seven days talking it," he said. "I do not think we need to talk about it. I think we need to make some decisions on it."

That one issue is energy aid to North Korea. China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States have been trying to come to an agreement with North Korea on a list of actions aimed at beginning the dismantlement of Pyongyang's nuclear programs.

Although the details of the deal, which was drafted by China, are unclear, it is widely anticipated to contain some form of halt to North Korea's nuclear production in exchange for energy, such as fuel oil, from the other five parties.

Japan's chief delegate to the talks, Kenichiro Sasae, said Sunday North Korea's "excessive demands" on energy were endangering a deal.

U.S. negotiator Hill says Pyongyang is not demonstrating sufficient commitment to fully dismantling its nuclear programs.

"We have not been prepared to provide energy as a substitute for denuclearization, that is, we are not looking to provide energy assistance so that they could avoid taking the further steps on denuclearization," he said.

The six-party diplomatic mechanism has failed for more than three years to make tangible progress in getting rid of North Korea's nuclear programs. Pyongyang tested its first nuclear weapon in October.

Hill says failure to reach an agreement by Monday's deadline would raise questions for the six-party process.

"I think, we have a real problem if we cannot reach an agreement on this," said Hill.

Hill says he does not rule out reaching a deal by Monday, noting that many negotiating processes achieve breakthroughs down to the wire. Whether or not a deal is reached, he says, he will provide specifics on the Chinese draft proposal later on Monday. He says he will aim to be on a plane back to the United States that night, or possibly early Tuesday.