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US, N. Korea Propose End to Nuclear Standoff - 2004-06-23


China says the United States and North Korea have each presented concrete proposals to end the North Korean nuclear standoff.

Speaking to reporters after the close of the first day of negotiations, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue characterized the proposals by the United States, North Korea, and South Korea as signs of progress, but gave no details on the offers.

Each of the new proposals have a very rich content and the various parties expressed views that they are ready to have serious studies of each of the proposals.

The talks opened with North Korea saying it may be ready to stop developing its nuclear program if the United States gives concessions.

Japan, South Korea, and Russia have offered North Korea significant aid in exchange for a nuclear freeze.

The United States has not changed its refusal not to offer Pyongyang incentives. But Washington has in recent days refrained from repeating its demands for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantling of North Korea's nuclear-weapons programs.

In televised remarks through a Chinese translator, the chief North Korean delegate, Kim Gye Gwan, said his country is willing to move toward stopping its nuclear-weapons development.

Mr. Kim says that if the United States ends, what he termed, its hostile policy his country is ready to give up its nuclear weapons in a transparent way.

China, the United States and many political analysts indicated they were not optimistic about the outcome of this third round of negotiations. Two previous rounds in August and February ended without progress.