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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 09:11 GMT
N Korea 'wary' on nuclear talks
North Korean soldiers
North Korea has blamed the Bush administration for the stand-off
North Korea has indicated it is not ready to resume stalled multinational talks on its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Analysts believe Pyonygyang had been holding off in the hope that a new US president would be elected.

But in their first comments since George W Bush's re-election, officials from the North reportedly said an early resumption of talks was not possible.

Thursday's comments were made to Japanese officials in Pyongyang to discuss abducted Japanese nationals.

There have been three rounds of six-party talks, aimed at pressuring Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear weapons ambitions. North Korea refused to attend a fourth in September.

The communist state appeared to see no point in talking before the US presidential election on 2 November, analysts said.

North Korea has consistently blamed the Bush administration's "hostile policy" for the nuclear stand-off.

North Korea
South Korea
United States

But now Pyongyang knows the result, it still does not seem keen to restart discussions.

"We understand North Korea is not positive (on restarting the talks soon)," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told a news conference.

Senior Vice Foreign Minister Shuzen Tanigawa also said North Korea was not ready to rejoin the talks, according to Kyodo news agency.

"They (the North Koreans) said they were not in an environment where they could restart six-party talks in early stages," Mr Tanigawa told reporters.

North Korea claims to have nuclear weapons and to be working on building up its arsenal.

Experts believe the North has already extracted enough plutonium for six or seven atomic bombs, although this is difficult to verify as North Korea will not submit to inspections from the UN's nuclear agency.


Later on Thursday, Japanese and North Korea officials were expected to discuss the fate of Japanese nationals allegedly abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 80s.

Pyongyang allowed five abductees to return to Japan in 2002, but claims other missing Japanese are now dead.

But Tokyo is sceptical, and wants proof the others have died. It also wants information on another two people whom North Korea says never entered the country.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il pledged in May to reinvestigate the cases.

The abduction is a major stumbling block to the establishment of diplomatic ties, which would win Pyongyang substantial economic aid from Japan.

The BBC's Tokyo correspondent, Jonathan Head, says there is strong public pressure on the Japanese government not to improve ties with North Korea until it gives a full account of what happened to all the Japanese abductees.

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