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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 04:01 GMT 05:01 UK
Koreas 'to tackle nuclear concerns'
North Korean Taepodong-1 missile
Pyongyang's nuclear programme has caused an uproar
North and South Korea have agreed to resolve international concerns over the North's nuclear weapons programme through dialogue.

The announcement in a joint statement followed three days of intensive discussions in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.


It is significant the North has listened sincerely

South Korean Unification Minister
"South and North Korea will make joint efforts to maintain peace on the Korean peninsula, and will actively pursue dialogue to resolve the nuclear issue and other problems," it said.

The BBC's Charles Scanlon says that South Korea had originally wanted the North to accept earlier agreements to give up its nuclear weapons programme, while the North, for its part, wanted to blame United States hostility for its action.

But despite failing to achieve such an explicit agreement, South Korean Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said that the agreement was a positive step.

"It is significant the North has listened sincerely when we conveyed worries the North's nuclear programme raised among Korean people and international communities," he said.

"In other times, the North would have defiantly rejected such comments."

US demands

North Korea had warned on Tuesday that it would be forced to take tough countermeasures if the US continued to pressure it over the nuclear weapons issue.

George W Bush
The US insists North Korea dismantle uranium enrichment facilities

The US has said North Korea should immediately dismantle its nuclear programme, which became public last week and which violates international accords.

US President George W Bush has said he believes the issue can be resolved peacefully.

Mr Bush is due to meet leaders of China, Japan and South Korea at a Pacific Rim summit later this week to discuss the issue.

Despite the new security threat, South Korea seems intent on continuing its policy of reconciliation with the North.

At the Pyongyang talks it agreed to start work on an industrial park in the North and to continue work to reconnect roads and railways after half a century of division.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Caroline Gluck reports from Seoul
"International pressure on the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions will continue"

Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

23 Oct 02 | Media reports
21 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
21 Oct 02 | Americas
18 Oct 02 | South Asia
17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
07 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
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