US says North Korea to end uranium enrichment year end

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SYDNEY, Oct 16 (Reuters) US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill says he believes North Korea will stop uranium enrichment by end of the year.

Speaking in Sydney, Hill said if North Korea agreed to abandon the last 50 kgs of plutonium, already produced at its Yongbyon reactor, than peace talks on the peninsula could start.

''We have had a lot of discussions with the North Koreans...I think that by the end of the year we have good reason to believe that whatever uranium enrichment programme they have going, they will not have going by the end of the year,'' Hill said in remarks made to the Sydney Institute.

''We have good reason to believe that begining in the new year, '08, we will have a problem in North Korea that is reduced to the presence of 50 kilos of separated plutonium,'' he said.

Pyongyang this month agreed to terms to disable its nuclear facilities and reveal what atomic programmes it has by the end of the year in return for aid, a deal regional powers hope will eventually lead to complete nuclear disarmament.

REUTERS SS AS1037

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