U.S., N Korea envoys meet in nuke talks

Feb. 9, 2007 at 12:56 PM

BEIJING, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The top U.S. and North Korean negotiators met face to face in new talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program Friday.

"The chief North Korean and U.S. negotiators, Kim Kye Gwan and Christopher Hill, met for two-hour bilateral negotiations over lunch in a Beijing hotel on the second day of six-nation talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program," the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Hill reiterated the U.S. position that Pyongyang had to scrap its main nuclear reactor before the United States would agree to establish diplomatic relations with the so-called "Hermit Kingdom," the report said

RIA Novosti cited a diplomatic source as saying Kim Kye Gwan told Hill that "North Korea was ready to halt or freeze its nuclear program and grant U.N. inspectors access to its nuclear sites if it was provided with $100 million-worth of fuel and could restore diplomatic relations with the United States," the report said.

"Hill said North Korea must dismantle its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Pyongyang to stop production of weapons-grade plutonium," the Russian news agency said.

According to a proposed compromise plan presented by China to the six-nation talks, the Yongbyon reactor would be frozen or sealed within two months and the other nations in the negotiating process would then give North Korea other energy supplies to compensate for it. However, RIA Novosti said Hill told Kim he disapproved of the term "freeze."

"Kim Kye Gwan said the talks inspired cautious optimism," RIA Novosti said. "The North Korean negotiator also had a 20-minute conversation with Japan's envoy to the talks, but no details have been revealed," the report said.

The six-party talks involve the United States, North and South Korea, Russia, China and Japan.

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