US expects N Korea talks to begin on Sept 27

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WASHINGTON, Sep 20 (Reuters) The United States said today it expects the next round of six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear programs to begin on September. 27 although the host, China, has yet to announce a date.

''The 27th is the date that the Chinese have floated with us and our understanding is that there was likely to be an announcement on this in the next bit,'' State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters.

The talks gather the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States in an effort persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear programs.

The US spokesman said he believed the Chinese were waiting for a final confirmation from one of the countries -- not North Korea or the United States -- before announcing the date. He declined to say which country had not yet confirmed.

''I think at this point it's a matter of formalities,'' Casey said.

Under a six-party agreement reached in February, North Korea has agreed to disable all its nuclear facilities and to provide a complete declaration of all its nuclear programs.

When the next round of the talks begin has been a moving target.

Last week the top US delegate the talks, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, had said he expected the talks to resume this week but that did not happen.

REUTERS GT RK2248

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