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Page last updated at 04:20 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 05:20 UK

N Korea nuclear statement 'due'

Condoleezza Rice (file image)
Ms Rice said the US was committed to the six-party talks mechanism

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says North Korea will "soon" deliver an overdue declaration of its nuclear activities, amid a new round of talks.

She said that when the document was in place, the US would both verify it and initiate steps to take North Korea off a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Her comments came as negotiators from four nations prepared for more talks on the stalled disarmament deal.

Pyongyang agreed in 2007 to abandon its nuclear ambitions in return for aid.

It has since closed its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, but then missed a year-end deadline to provide a complete accounting of all of its nuclear activities.

Progress on the deal has been held up for several months.

'Respond accordingly'

Speaking in Washington, Ms Rice said that North Korea "will soon give its declaration of nuclear programmes to China".

Then in the time it would take to formalise North Korea's removal from the terrorism list, the US would "continue to assess the level of North Korean cooperation in helping to verify the accuracy and completeness of its declaration".

"And if that co-operation is insufficient, we will respond accordingly," she said.

Ms Rice reiterated the US commitment to a multilateral approach via the six-party talks mechanism.

"Together, we have the best chance of holding North Korea accountable for irresponsible behaviour," she said.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (L) is greeted by senior North Korean official Yang Hyong-sop upon his arrival at Pyongyang Airport on Tuesday
Top Chinese official Xi Jingping (L) has been holding talks in Pyongyang

Top negotiators from three of the six parties - the US, South Korea and Japan - are to meet later today in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, for consultations on the issue.

On Friday, US negotiator Christopher Hill will then travel to Beijing for more talks with Chinese officials.

Meanwhile, a top Chinese official has been visiting Pyongyang.

On Wednesday, Vice-President Xi Jinping held talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in which he urged him to move the disarmament talks forward, Chinese state media reported.

Mr Xi is seen as a contender to succeed President Hu Jintao and sending an envoy of his stature suggests Beijing wants tangible results from the visit, observers say.

North Korea tested a nuclear weapon in October 2006.



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