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Rice: Relations with North Korea Could Improve Once Nuclear Standoff Resolved

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she looks forward to normalized relations between the United States and North Korea.

In an exclusive interview with French Press Agency on Thursday, Rice said efforts to disable Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs have been "pretty smooth." The secretive Stalinist regime has promised to dismantle its nuclear program, and make a full declaration of its nuclear activities by the end of the year.

Rice says "the real beginnings of political engagement" will take place once that step is achieved.

In other developments, The Washington Post is reporting U.S. scientists have discovered traces of enriched uranium on aluminum tubing provided by Pyongyang. North Korea has denied enriching uranium to use in nuclear weapons.

The top U.S. expert on North Korea, Sung Kim, is on a visit to the communist country, where a U.S. team is dismantling a reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid and other incentives.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.