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Page last updated at 14:01 GMT, Tuesday, 8 April 2008 15:01 UK

'Success' hailed in N Korea talks

Kim Kye-gwan pictured in Beijing on 05/04
Mr Kim said differences between the two sides had narrowed

Nuclear officials from the US and North Korea have hailed talks in Singapore as successful, as they try to end deadlock on a stalled de-nuclearisation deal.

"We addressed all the issues we needed to address," said US envoy Christopher Hill after his third meeting this year with counterpart Kim Kye-gwan.

Mr Hill said he hoped to make further announcements "very soon".

The US wants full details of the North's nuclear activities in return for aid and diplomatic concessions.

North Korea agreed in February 2007 to give up its nuclear programme in return for aid, in a six-nation deal with the US, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia.

Since then it has closed its Yongbyon reactor, but the deal stalled after Pyongyang failed to disclose fully all of its activities by the end of last year.

'Possible deal'

Mr Hill said he and his counterpart had "a good discussion".

"If all goes well, I hope we can have some further statements in Beijing tomorrow which would involve some follow-on activities," he said.

They know exactly what the issues are and that we don't want to meet them unless we could achieve something
Christopher Hill

Mr Hill is aiming to get the six-nation talks back on track, but before the meeting he played down the possibility of a breakthrough.

"I don't think we will have any agreement, we are not looking for an agreement, we are looking to have a consultation on some of the issues that have kept us apart," he said.

"They know exactly what the issues are and that we don't want to meet them unless we could achieve something."

Mr Kim told South Korea's Yonhap news agency that differences between the two sides "have been narrowed a lot" and hailed the talks as successful.

The two sides have disagreed on two key issues - whether or not North Korea has a secret uranium enrichment programme and whether it has transferred nuclear technology overseas. North Korea denies both allegations and says it has already provided the US with full details of its nuclear activities.

Some media reports, however, have suggested that some kind of compromise deal between the two sides - possibly involving a separate, confidential declaration - could be in the pipeline. The talks come amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Pyongyang has been angered by the South Korean president's decision to link bilateral aid to progress on denuclearisation and human rights.

In recent days it has expelled South Korean managers from a joint industrial zone, test-fired missiles off its west coast and upped its rhetoric in state media.


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