NKorea talks "document" to be announced in 2 days

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BEIJING, Sep 30 (Reuters) Talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programmes took a break in Beijing today while delegates discuss a joint statement with their governments, a Chinese official said.

Chinese delegation head Wu Dawei said talks would go into ''recess'' for two days. ''But we will try our best that after two days we will be able to make this document public,'' Wu told reporters.

The Chinese official close to the talks told Reuters delegates would return to their home countries, making it unclear how the talks could resume so quickly after years of on-and-off negotiations.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said all sides had ''adopted'' the statement which would be announced in two days.

US envoy Christopher Hill, who is flying out of Beijing today, said earlier he was confident the session could set out a path that would see the North making good on its pledge to disable its atomic facilities.

Under an accord 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.

North Korea, which tested a nuclear device last year, has shut down and sealed its Yongbyon atomic plant in return for energy aid and moves towards bringing it out of diplomatic isolation, first steps in the February agreement.

Now the six-party forum, hosted by China and involving the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia, is pressing Pyongyang to disable its atomic facilities and make a complete declaration of related programmes.

On Friday, US President George W Bush authorised 25 million dollars in aid for the North, which would provide up to 50,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, as a reward for Pyongyang's commitment to disable its nuclear facilities by the end of the year.

China and South Korea have delivered initial fuel shipments and Russia is expected to do so too. But Japan has indicated it will not participate unless North Korea addresses the issue of Japanese citizens the North abducted in the 1970s and 1980s.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura was quoted as saying on Sunday Tokyo planned to extend economic sanctions against North Korea for another six months after current measures expire in mid-October.

In 2002, North Korea was able to restart the Yongbyon reactor in two months, after a previous disarmament agreement fell apart.

Japanese delegate Kenichiro Sasae said all countries had their own concerns in the talks.

''Of course all sides could not agree on every detail,'' Xinhua quoted him as saying earlier in the day. ''But trying to reach consensus is our job and it's important to keep the efforts to this end.'' REUTERS SZ BD1324

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