U.S. envoy stresses to China importance of taking all of Pyongyang's nuclear programs into account

Friday, July 30th 2004, 8:43 am
By: News On 6

BEIJING (AP) _ A U.S. envoy to six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear dispute has underscored to Chinese officials the importance of taking into account all of Pyongyang's nuclear programs if the issue is to be resolved, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said Friday.

Joseph DeTrani met Thursday with his counterpart, Ning Fukui, and spoke on Friday with Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, China's chief delegate to the talks, the spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity.

DeTrani's visit was aimed at sorting out details for lower-level working group discussions prior to the next round of six-party meetings, expected to be held by the end of September.

The dispute flared in 2002 when Washington said North Korea admitted operating a secret uranium-based nuclear program in violation of a 1994 agreement.

While the North has acknowledged it has a program based on plutonium, it has denied the U.S. claim about a uranium program _ a sticking point in negotiations.

Little progress has been made in the last three rounds of six-nation talks held in Beijing, which also include Japan, Russia and South Korea.

Citing Wang, the official Xinhua News Agency said it was crucial for the working groups to meet as soon as possible to discuss the implementation of the ``first stage of nuclear abandonment.''

At the most recent meeting in June, the United States proposed a step-by-step plan that would begin with Pyongyang freezing its nuclear programs for a three-month period to prepare for dismantling, during which it would list all nuclear activities and allow monitoring of its facilities.

Under the plan, some benefits would be withheld to ensure the North cooperates.

In return, North Korea insisted on simultaneous rewards _ energy aid and lifting of economic sanctions.

Last week, a spokesman for the North's Foreign Ministry denounced the American proposal as ``a sham'' and said it was ``little worthy to be discussed any longer.''