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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 January 2008, 05:32 GMT
N Korea quiet on nuclear deadline
File image of North Korean soldiers at the truce village of Panmunjom
Pyongyang has agreed to end its nuclear programme in return for aid
North Korea stressed economic issues but failed to mention a missed deadline for disclosing details of its nuclear programme in a New Year editorial.

The communist nation pledged to improve citizens' lives and restated a demand for the US to end its "hostile policy".

But it did not acknowledge Monday's deadline for providing a full declaration of its nuclear activities.

The deadline was part of a disarmament deal under which Pyongyang is to receive large amounts of aid.

The North agreed to the deal during six-party talks in February 2007. The nations involved in the process are China, the US, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas.

South Korea, Japan and the US have all expressed disappointment at the North's failure to meet the deadline.

'Earnest efforts'

In the editorial, a yearly vehicle in which Pyongyang lists achievements over the past year and sets out priorities for the next, economic development was a prominent theme.

The DPRK (North Korea) will... further develop relations of friendship and cooperation with all the countries that are friendly towards it
New Year editorial

"The entire party, the whole country and all the people should launch a general offensive to build an economic power," it said, emphasising the need to solve food shortages.

There was no reference to new South Korean leader Lee Myung-bak - who pledges a tougher stance towards Pyongyang and whose election has not yet been reported in North Korean media.

Instead, the editorial warned against "pro-US sycophancy" that could hinder the "trend of the times towards reunification" between the Koreas.

But it also pledged "earnest efforts for stability" on the Korean Peninsula and promised "cooperation with all the countries that are friendly towards it".

North Korean nuclear reactor at Yongbyon (2002 file pic)
North Korea started disabling Yongbyon in October

Since the landmark disarmament deal was agreed in February, North Korea has closed its main reactor at Yongbyon. Steps are currently underway to permanently disable it.

But the second stage of the process - a written declaration providing a complete account of all Pyongyang's nuclear activities - has proved more problematic.

The US particularly wants to know how much plutonium has been produced by North Korea, and also to see evidence that there is no secret programme for uranium enrichment for weapons purposes.

North Korea denies the existence of any such programme and has attributed the delay to the slow delivery of promised aid.

Nations involved in the talks have voiced disappointment over the missed deadline, but promised more talks.

"It's unfortunate but we are going to keep on working on this," said US State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

"We're still committed to getting a declaration and we want that declaration to be full and complete."

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