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UN Schedules Meeting on N. Korea Crisis - 2003-04-03

The U.N. Security Council has agreed to meet next Wednesday to discuss the North Korea nuclear crisis.

The 15-member Security Council has scheduled the consultations for April 9 - three months after North Korea's announcement that it would withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. North Korea has warned against Security Council involvement and said it would view punitive action by the United Nations as a declaration of war.

For weeks, the United States has pressed for the council to meet on the issue.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte described the situation as a "delicate subject" and would not elaborate on efforts to agree on a Security Council statement on the matter.

"The fact of the matter is that we have agreed on holding [Security Council] consultations on the ninth [of April] and I think you will have to wait to see outcome of those consultations," he said.

China has resisted Security Council intervention in favor of bilateral contacts between Washington and Pyongyang. China's ambassador reportedly said that he does not know what the consultations "will accomplish."

In December, Pyongyang expelled inspectors from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The U.N. nuclear watchdog group referred the matter to the Security Council after the agency's governing board passed a resolution expressing concern that North Korea had violated international nuclear safeguards and rejected new dialogue in February.