Russia, S Korea hold talks on N Korean nuclear issue

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Moscow, Oct 23 (UNI) Russian and South Korean chief representatives at the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear issue held discussion here today to coordinate their negotiating positions.

The talks were held following the recent call by Pyongyang to remove Japan from the six-nation (Russia, South Korea, North Korea, the United States, China and Japan) talks on the nuclear issue.

''We are now at an important stage in the six-party process, near the end of the second phase of the Korean peninsula's denuclearisation. There is a range of issues that need to be discussed in order to coordinate our positions,'' Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin said at the start of the talks with his South Korean counterpart Kim Sook.

Under a February 2007 deal between the six parties, North Korea pledged to dismantle its plutonium-producing Yongbyon reactor and provide full information on its nuclear program.

Last week, the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said North Korea had resumed work to dismantle the reactor, after a pause of several months.

Mr Kim said it was now of key importance that all sides fulfilled their commitments.

''Participant states must strive to fulfill their commitments in line with both the protocol on verification of North Korea's reports on its nuclear programme and the principle of mutual action,'' RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as saying.

Seoul has criticised Japan for reneging on its commitments under the six-party deal.

Japan has refused to provide its share of the one million tonnes of fuel aid pledged to the reclusive communist state, demanding that Pyonyang first disclose all information on Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea during the 1970s and 1980s.

In response, North Korea has called for Japan to be excluded from the six-party negotiations.

Japan has also opposed the US decision to remove Pyonyang from its terrorism blacklist. Washington made the decision on October 11 after reaching a deal with North Korea on verifying its past nuclear activities.

Japan's position has come as a blow to the US, which had hoped to conclude the current stage of North Korea's denuclearisation process before George W Bush leaves office in January.

According to international media reports, China, Russia, the US, and South Korea may approach another partner - possibly the European Union or Australia - and ask them to take Japan's place as a donor to North Korea.

UNI XC RJ SB HT1707

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