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Page last updated at 08:47 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 09:47 UK

US nuclear team back in N Korea

US envoy Sung Kim, 21/04
Sung Kim heads the US team

US officials have travelled to North Korea on a mission aimed at restarting the stalled denuclearisation process, after a week of high-level diplomacy.

The US state department's top Koreas expert Sung Kim crossed the South-North border by car, in his latest visit to the reclusive communist country.

Pyongyang missed a deadline at the end of last year to produce a full list of all its nuclear activities.

The US, together with North Korea's neighbours, is anxious for progress.

Nuclear authorities believe North Korea had a uranium enrichment programme, and transferred nuclear technology to Syria.

Pyongyang, however, denies both accusations.

US 'still hopeful'

Before heading across the border, Mr Kim said he was hoping to make significant progress.

"We will be talking about issues related to the declaration. We expect to have very detailed and substantive discussions," South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted him as saying.

The agency described the North's decision to allow Mr Kim to cross the border by car as extraordinary, suggesting it could be a tactic to talk only to Washington while shunning dialogue with Seoul.

Relations between the two Koreas have worsened since Lee Myung-bak became the South's president and signalled a tougher line with the North.

In the past week, President Lee has held talks with Japanese leader Yasuo Fukuda and US President George W Bush, focusing on the situation in the North.

In a joint press conference on Monday, Mr Lee and Mr Fukuda said they had agreed to work more closely with the US on the issue.

"On the nuclear issue, we confirmed the need for North Korea to swiftly make a correct and full declaration," Mr Fukuda said.

"We agreed that Japan and South Korea would work together, and that Japan, South Korea and the United States would co-operate more closely than before."

On Saturday Mr Lee and Mr Bush told reporters they were still hopeful progress could be made in getting Pyongyang to declare its programme.

In a landmark deal reached in February last year, Pyongyang agreed to close its main reactor in return for shipments of fuel oil.

It also agreed to divulge the full extent of its nuclear programme by December.

But it missed the deadline, and while it is taking steps to close its Yongbyon reactor, it has yet to produce a declaration of nuclear activities to the international community's satisfaction.



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