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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 05:25 GMT
S Korea upbeat on nuclear talks
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun
Roh says he is ready to meet North Korea's Kim Jong-il any time
South Korea says it expects talks on the North's nuclear programme to resume after the inauguration of US President George W Bush later this month.

President Roh Moo-hyun said on Thursday that the talks could resume once the re-elected Bush administration had chosen its foreign policy team.

Three rounds of negotiations between the US, South and North Korea, Japan and Russia have been held since 2003.

The last inconclusive round took place in June last year.

Since then North Korea has refused to rejoin the talks, citing a "hostile" American attitude and apparently waiting for the outcome of the US election.

No Date

At a news conference marking Korean New Year Mr Roh said: "I think conditions are ripe for the six-party talks to open."

However he said he could not give a specific date.

The president also said he was ready to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, at any time.

Mr Roh has long urged the US not to take too aggressive an approach on North Korea.

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

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