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Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008

North nuke verification must be in writing: Saiki


Staff writer

Negotiators on North Korea's denuclearization confirmed Wednesday that they will press Pyongyang during next week's six-party talks to agree to verify its nuclear disarmament in writing.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and his South Korean counterpart, Kim Sook, were in Tokyo to meet with Japan's top envoy, Akitaka Saiki, to lay the groundwork before the six-party talks, which also include North Korea, China and Russia, slated for Monday in Beijing.

"There must be a clear commitment in writing" on allowing inspectors to take samples from North Korean nuclear facilities, Saiki said after the meeting. "There can not be any misunderstanding regarding the verification procedures."

The three negotiators agreed that measures to confirm the North's complete disarmament should include sample testing of specific nuclear facilities and that such a deal must be put down in writing to avoid any ambiguity on the issue.

A consensus on the denuclearization process and energy aid for Pyongyang must also be reached during the talks, they agreed.

The trilateral group "will join together and continue to work with a strong sense of mission," Kim told reporters.

The six-party negotiations, which started in 2003, appeared to be heading for failure earlier this year, when North Korea began to reverse its dismantling of the Yongbyon nuclear plant and removed International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from the site.

However, the move by the United States to delist North Korea from its list of terrorism-sponsoring countries in October halted North Korea's retreat and Pyongyang agreed to put a halt to its nuclear arms program in return.

During previous six-party talks, the North reportedly agreed to allow international inspectors and sample-taking, but has since denied that it agreed to such a deal.

The hermit state has agreed to halt nuclear development in the past in exchange for energy and food aid, but has backed out of such pacts several times.

"Our hope is that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will come to understand, as many countries in the world have come to understand, that security lies in having good relations with all their neighbors rather than a unilateral arsenal," Hill told reporters Wednesday, referring to North Korea by its official name.



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