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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
US 'pleased' at N Korea talks
The six sides join hands symbolically at the start of the talks
The six agreed on little, except the need to meet again
The United States says it is "pleased" at the outcome of six-nation talks in Beijing on North Korea's nuclear programme.

The three-day meeting - involving the US, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia - ended on Friday, with an agreement to meet again within two months, although no date or venue has yet been set.

There was no joint statement, but all sides agreed that the Korean peninsula should be nuclear free, and reached a consensus not to escalate the situation while a solution is being negotiated.

The BBC's correspondent at the talks, Charles Scanlon, says an agreement to meet again had been seen as the best that could be achieved from the Beijing talks.

We can dismantle our nuclear programme if the US makes a switchover in its hostile policy towards us
North Korea

"We are pleased that... a consensus developed that the multilateral process can advance towards the goal of a peaceful resolution to the North Korea nuclear problem," a State Department spokeswoman said in Washington.

The US strategy has been to involve regional powers to increase pressure on North Korea.

North Korean offer

However, the North Koreans ended the Beijing meeting on a defiant note.

A report by North Korea's official news agency KCNA said: "As the United States refused to express its willingness to shift away from its hostile policy towards us, the prospect of continuing the talks is in danger."

The agency said Pyongyang had put forward a "package of solutions" during the talks.

This reportedly included:

  • A US-North Korean non-aggression treaty
  • Diplomatic relations
  • Inter-regional economic co-operation

In return for:

  • Not making nuclear weapons and allowing inspections
  • The dismantling of nuclear facilities
  • An end to testing and exporting missiles

But, according to our correspondent, diplomats said the US had ruled out a non-aggression treaty.

Washington appears to have stood by its demand that the North make the first move.

In a BBC interview, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, said North Korea had been guilty of nuclear "blackmail".

"I don't think they can be trusted," said the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). "However, we would like to work with them and bring them back to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)."

According to US officials, North Korea confirmed privately to them in April that Pyongyang possessed nuclear weapons.

North Korea subsequently expelled UN weapons inspectors and pulled out of the NPT.

The three days of talks this week were the first formal discussions on the crisis since April, and the first to include South Korea, Japan, and Russia.

Japan is not only worried about the nuclear threat, but about North Korea's admission last year that it kidnapped Japanese citizens to help spies in the 1970s and 80s.

North Korea's delegate promised to resolve the issue, Japan's envoy said.

The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"North Korea had threatened to test a nuclear bomb"

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