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China Cancels Closing Ceremony for North Korean Nuclear Talks - 2004-06-25

China has canceled Saturday's closing ceremony for multiparty talks on North Korea's nuclear program. North Korea reportedly threatened to test a nuclear device, if the United States does not accept its offer to freeze its nuclear program.

News that China canceled the closing ceremony came hours after a senior U.S. official in Washington said North Korea had threatened to test a nuclear weapon, if the negotiations in Beijing failed. The reported threat came after the United States made a significant new offer to address the North's energy needs and provide security assurances in exchange for eventual nuclear dismantling.

North Korea has so far offered to freeze its nuclear programs in exchange for massive aid.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue says her government did not expect negotiations to go smoothly.

"This is a very complicated issue, and differences always exist, and with the deepening of the discussion of the substantive issues, differences will become more obvious," she said.

South Korean officials close to the talks said China, Pyongyang's closest ally in the negotiations, held private meetings with the North Korea delegation Friday - delaying the start of the six-way session, which also includes Russia and Japan.