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N. Korea Nuclear Talks may Bring Understanding, says Russian Deputy FM - 2004-02-03

Russia's lead official on talks with North Korea says he does not expect any breakthroughs in a new round of six-nation talks this month aimed at ending the standoff over North Korea's nuclear program.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov characterized the differences between the United States and North Korea as very great. He said in that situation what is most needed is not necessarily a breakthrough, but rather a better understanding of how the negotiating process might be moved forward.

At issue is North Korea's admission last year that it has a nuclear weapons program, in violation of international treaties. The United States wants the program dismantled. North Korea has offered only to freeze it, in return for aid and official U.S. recognition.

China has announced it will host another round of talks starting February 25, involving diplomats from the United States, North and South Korea, Russia and Japan. Their first round of talks in August ended without significant progress.