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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
N Korea talks revival 'up to US'
Satellite image of North Korea's Yongbyon Nuclear Centre
Nuclear talks with the North stalled in November 2005
North Korea has said it is up to the US to take steps to revive talks on Pyongyang's nuclear arms programme.

"It is the US that knows full well what needs to be done to revive the six-party talks," Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said.

He was speaking in Japan, where the six nations involved in talks - the two Koreas, Russia, China, Japan and the US - are to meet for a private conference.

The comments follow the news that the two Koreas will meet later this month.

The high-level talks between the North and South - which technically remain at war - were originally scheduled to start last week.

The Communist nation delayed them in a protest over US-South Korean military drills. It says the exercises are a rehearsal for invasion of the country - a claim South Korea and the US refute.

'Ready to meet'

Chief nuclear negotiators for six-party talks are gathering in Tokyo for a private security conference, beginning on Monday, aimed at persuading Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table.

"We have not come here for the purpose of six-nation talks and the US knows very well what is necessary to resume the talks," Mr Kim, the North's top negotiator, told reporters as he arrived in Japan.

"If the US makes a proposal to meet us, we intend to accept it," he added.

Nothing can happen until we see what North Korea has in its briefcase
Taro Aso
Japanese Foreign Minister

North Korea agreed to give up its nuclear goals and return to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) last September.

However, its demands that it be given a civilian nuclear reactor and that the US lift financial sanctions brought talks to a standstill, with no date set for more negotiations.

US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will attend the Tokyo meeting, but US officials said there were no plans for him to meet with the North Korean envoy.

North Korea might also hold talks on the sidelines with Japan, reports from Tokyo have said. Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties and visits by the North's officials are rare.

However, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso played down expectations.

"Just because all the participants will be here... doesn't mean it will suddenly be formal six-way talks... Nothing can happen until we see what North Korea has in its briefcase," he was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

The topic for discussion at the talks between North Korea and South Korea, planned for 21-24 April, has not yet been decided, but past meetings have covered economic assistance, mining and humanitarian co-operation.

Bilateral relations between the two have warmed significantly in recent years, but tensions also persist over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.


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