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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2007, 14:04 GMT
US envoy holds rare N Korea talks
US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, right, shakes hands with North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun in Pyongyang (04/12/2007)
Mr Hill is the highest profile US diplomat to visit North Korea
The top US envoy to North Korea has held a rare meeting with the country's foreign minister on nuclear issues.

Christopher Hill and Pak Ui-chun were expected to discuss a timetable for North Korea's presentation of a full list of its nuclear facilities.

The list was part of a deal in October under which North Korea agreed to end its nuclear programme in exchange for aid and diplomatic concessions.

Mr Hill has spent part of his visit touring the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

The US Assistant Secretary of State is the highest-profile foreign diplomat to have visited the ageing nuclear complex, north of the capital, which houses North Korea's only operational reactor.

US experts are supervising the removal of 8,000 spent fuel rods as part of an international deal, first agreed in February and confirmed in October, under which North Korea ends its nuclear programme in return for economic aid and diplomatic concessions.

Difficult stage

Correspondents say that Pyongyang's commitment to declare all its nuclear assets by the end of the year is potentially the most difficult part of the deal.

North Korean Deputy Premier Jon Sung-hun (l) and counterpart Kwon O-kyu
North and South Korean ministers are holding economic talks in Seoul

Mr Hill has stressed that it must be a comprehensive list and include details of North Korea's suspected secret programme to build uranium-enriched bombs.

He said on Monday that he was looking forward to seeing the declaration soon and finalising the denuclearisation process.

"In the context of complete denuclearisation we would look forward to establishing complete diplomatic relations," he told reporters in Pyongyang.

Because the list has not yet been completed, the next round of six-party talks on the Korean nuclear issue, which were due to take place this week, has been called off.

Cho Hee-yong, a spokesman for the foreign ministry in Seoul, said that the list was to have been a central part of the talks.

"Considering the time needed, it appears it would be difficult to hold a new round of the six-party head of delegation talks this week," Mr Cho said.

Meanwhile, finance ministers from North and South Korea are holding talks in Seoul aimed at improving economic ties following a thawing of relations between the countries in recent months.

North Korean Deputy Premier Jon Sung-hun is discussing the development of joint industrial and shipbuilding projects with counterpart Kwon O-kyu.





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