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Nuke Talks In Disarray As
N Korea Turns On US
8-29-3

(AFP) -- The North Korean nuclear talks were in danger of collapse after the North accused the United States of jeopardising negotiations with its "hostile" hardline stance.
 
The verbal attack on the United States came as US officials said North Korea had threatened during the six-nation talks in Beijing to conduct a nuclear test and declare itself a nuclear power.
 
"As the United States refused to express its willingness to shift away from its hostile policy toward us, the prospect of continuing the talks is in danger," North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said Friday.
 
"The United States has said the next round of the talks would take place only after we declare the scrapping of the nuclear programme," said KCNA.
 
Washington has been adamant that the Stalinist state's nuclear programmes must be dismantled before it will consider economic assistance and diplomatic normalisation for the bankrupt country.
 
With the standoff heading towards deadlock, delegates from the six participating nations -- North Korea, United States, Japan, Russia, South Korea and China -- were meeting behind closed doors for a third and final day of dicussions to put the final touches on a joint communique.
 
But it is not expected to set a date for another round of negotiations to end the 11-month showdown which was triggered last October when US envoy James Kelly said North Korea had admitted to having a secret nuclear programme in violation of a 1994 bilateral accord.
 
Washington immediately cut vital fuel shipments to the Stalinist state, while North Korea responded by expelling UN inspectors, re-starting a mothballed reactor and withdrawing from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
 
"The joint statement does not specify a fixed date or venue for a next round of talks," a South Korean official told AFP.
 
Russia's chief negotiator Alexander Losyukov was quoted by Rusian media Thursday as saying that new negotiations on the nuclear standoff will be held by October in Beijing.
 
The declaration by North Korean envoy Kim Yong-Il about its nuclear threat was made in front of the US delegation and envoys from Russia, China South Korea and Japan, the US officials said, although other delegates could not confirm this Friday.
 
"We are taking it seriously but they have said these kind of things before," said one US official on condition of anonymity.
 
"We don't think they should have nuclear weapons, so obviously we don't think they should be testing them," said State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker.
 
Despite North Korea's statement, White House officials described the meetings as "positive".
 
North Korean tempers were reportedly running high on the second day of the three-day talks at Beijing's Diaoyutai state guesthouse, in marked contrast to smooth negotiations in the opening session when US and North Korean officials met face-to-face.
 
According to the White House, Kelly on Wednesday used his formal opening remarks to reiterate Washington's goal of "complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons programme."
 
Despite the fiery rhetoric, according to Russian and South Korean delegates, North Korea had Thursday emphasized its goal of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula during discussions.
 
And a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry's website said that "all sides (at the talks) reiterated a nuclear-free Korean peninsula is a common objective for everybody."
 
A senior Japanese official said, however, that he saw "no change in (North Korea's) perception of American policy."
 
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