- (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
- "The joint statement does not specify a fixed date
or venue for a next round of talks," a South Korean official told
- 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
- 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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