Seoul says North Korea nuclear talks delayed

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SEOUL, Sep 17 (Reuters) Talks between North Korea and regional powers on ending Pyongyang's atomic weapons program will not be held on September 19 as widely expected, South Korea said today, citing an official notice from host China.

Seoul's Foreign Ministry also said in a brief e-mail that China had said it would discuss a new date with the other countries involved.

''China officially notified us this afternoon that it has become difficult for the six-party talks to be held on September 19,'' the ministry said, referring to the talks involving the United States, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas.

The ministry gave no reason for the delay.

The delay comes days after the lead US negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, said on Friday he expected to attend the talks despite reports Syria might have received North Korean nuclear aid. Pyongyang has denied any such deal.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington that the United States had been ready to go to the talks. He declined to comment on the reason for the postponement.

''The Chinese say that they have postponed the envoys level meeting until next week,'' he said.

''We're prepared to go ... we are looking forward to a six-party envoy level meeting next week,'' McCormack added.

REUTERS AM BD2133

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