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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 September 2007, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
US optimistic after N Korea talks
US envoy Christopher Hill at the six-party talks on 27 November 2007
Mr Hill said the talks had been the "least stressful"
The US has expressed optimism about reaching agreement on ending North Korea's nuclear programme, after the latest round of international talks.

US envoy Christopher Hill said China had drafted a useful joint statement on the next phase in the process.

He said it would lay out "an entire road map through to the end of the year" if it was agreed to.

The six-nation talks, in Beijing, have been halted for two days while envoys take the plan to their governments.

Pyongyang agreed in February to disable its nuclear programme in return for aid and diplomatic benefits. It has already shut down its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

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Negotiators from China, Japan, Russia, the US and the two Koreas have spent the past four days thrashing out the details of the next phase of denuclearisation.

Mr Hill said the joint statement, drafted by China, was "full of detail" and "very comprehensive".

"We are really into the nuts and bolts now of implementing denuclearisation."

He described the talks as the "least stressful in terms of coming up with common positions".

Mr Hill said the delegates were close to agreeing on what "disabling" nuclear facilities meant in practice - an issue that had previously been a stumbling block.

The BBC's Michael Bristow in Beijing says officials are aware that the talks have brought many unexpected twists, so they are wary of declaring success prematurely.

North Korea's nuclear ambitions first attracted international attention in 2002.

Despite numerous summits and high-level talks, Pyongyang tested its first nuclear device in October 2006.

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