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Page last updated at 13:37 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 14:37 UK

Progress made in NK nuclear talks

File image of US nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill
Christopher Hill talked down any suggestion of a major breakthrough

Progress has been made on what North Korea will receive from the US in exchange for disclosing its nuclear activities, negotiators have said.

Pyongyang's foreign ministry said consensus had been reached on US political compensation for the declaration by North Korea.

A top US diplomat said progress had been made, but would not give a time-line for a possible breakthrough.

The issue has prevented a deal being clinched in disarmament talks.

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

The US had accused Pyongyang of missing a year-end deadline to make a full nuclear declaration as promised.

Autumn breakthrough?

"A consensus was reached on the US measure to make political compensation and the nuclear declaration essential for winding up the implementation of the agreement," a foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying on North Korea's official KCNA news agency.

File image of North Korean soldiers in the border village of Panmunjom
North Korea last tested nuclear weapons in October 2006

The US response to the talks was less emphatic.

"We've definitely made progress on [a declaration] but every time I mention a time, I'm always wrong," said Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill.

"I don't want to suggest there has been any major breakthrough. But as the days go by, we'll be announcing some efforts to try to move ahead."

Mr Hill was speaking in Beijing after discussing the nuclear issue with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye-gwan, in Singapore.

The US diplomat had been briefing other parties to the six-nation disarmament deal on the outcome of the Singapore talks.

Terrorism blacklist

Wu Dawei, China's senior negotiator in the disarmament talks, suggested after the meeting that a breakthrough could be made "around Autumn".

Washington views Pyongyang's full disclosure of nuclear programmes as a cornerstone of disarmament talks.

The six-nations agreement would see the reclusive state removed from a US terrorism blacklist and be put in line for major diplomatic and security benefits as well as energy aid.

Pyongyang last tested a nuclear weapon in 2006, but said it had submitted its declaration in November.

Washington countered that the declaration did not account for an alleged secret uranium enrichment programme or for alleged proliferation to Syria.



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