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Talks on North Korean Nuclear Issue at Impasse

The chief U.S. envoy to the six-nation North Korean nuclear negotiations says no progress has been made on finding a way to verify the regime's claims it has ended its nuclear program.
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill says Wednesday's meetings in Beijing ended without an agreement among the parties on a proposal put forward by China.

The draft document spelled out procedures international inspectors could use to verify Pyongyang's nuclear claims.

The United States insists inspectors must be allowed to take samples of material from nuclear sites to prove North Korea had disabled its efforts to build nuclear weapons. But Pyongyang denies it had earlier agreed to allow sampling, calling it a violation of its sovereignty.

In addition to establishing verification procedures, Hill told reporters Tuesday the current talks aim to produce a timetable for the final disablement of North Korea's nuclear facilities and a schedule for delivering energy aid to the country.

Other nations involved in the talks include both North and South Korea, Japan and Russia.

In a related development, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency says Washington has recognized the regime as a nuclear power. KCNA is apparently seizing on a report issued last month by the U.S. Joint Forces Command that places Pyongyang alongside such regional nuclear powers as China, India, North Korea and Russia.

But the command, which is responsible for coordinating the U.S. military's combat efforts, says official U.S. policy does not recognize North Korea as a nuclear power.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.