US "would like more" from North Korea at talks

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BEIJING, Sep 28 (Reuters) The US envoy to talks on disarming North Korea today suggested a lot of ground remained to be covered between the two protagonists as six-party talks entered day two.

Under an agreement reached in February, North Korea must disable its atomic facilities and make a complete declaration of all its nuclear programmes. In return, the impoverished communist state, formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), will receive a massive injection of fuel aid.

''The DPRK has agreed to some steps and I think we've looked at what they've agreed to and, frankly, we'd like more and they'd like less and lets see what we end up with,'' US negotiator Christopher Hill told reporters.

He said the scope of what ''disabling'' meant was an issue, and that for the United States it meant a nuclear facility would be very hard to put back together.

''We don't have an agreement on what constitutes disabling yet,'' Hill said.

He said the six countries at the talks -- the United States, the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and host China -- would study a draft text today that will set targets through the end of the year, including disablement and declaration of the North's nuclear programmes.

North Korea shut down and sealed its Soviet-era Yongbyon nuclear plant and allowed UN atomic energy monitors back to the site in July, its first steps in seeing through the breakthrough February 13 deal.

In return, Pyongyang has received shiploads of heavy fuel oil and held bilateral talks with the United States that could bring the fortress state out of diplomatic isolation.

But the country must still move ahead to disable its nuclear arms programmes before it receives 950,000 tonnes of heavy fuel -- crucial to the North Korea, which is so poor it cannot afford fuel to run its factories or even its traffic lights.

Asked whether he had raised the issue of speculation North Korea had supplied nuclear knowhow to Syria, Hill said: ''We have raised the issue very forcefully on the overall question of proliferation and the need to do something about proliferation.'' Reuters KK VP0718

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