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N.Korea wants Norway to broker nuclear deal-paper

Written by: Staff

Oslo, Mar 17: North Korea wants Norway to mediate in its dispute with the United States over the development of its nuclear industry, the daily Norwegian newspaper VG said today (Mar 17, 2006).

''Norway has a good reputation as a peace mediator and very good experience in international conflict resolution,'' North Korea's ambassador to the Nordic region, Jon In Chan, told VG.

''These qualities should be invaluable on the Korean peninsula where relations are tense. We hope Norway can contribute as conflict solver in the ongoing nuclear dispute between the US and North Korea.'' North Korea says it has nuclear weapons, though the United States has been unable to confirm this, and six-party talks aimed at ending the communist state's nuclear weapons programme have stalled.

Those involved are the United States, Russia, Japan, China and the two Koreas.

Norway, a member of NATO but not of the European Union, has a reputation as a peace mediator after organising peace deals in West Asia and Sri Lanka.

Senior Norwegian diplomat Raymond Johansen told VG he had spoken to the North Korean ambassador but nothing had been finalised. ''The talks were not that specific that an active broker role was discussed,'' he said.

''But the fact that the ambassador defined the role to VG is interesting. But we must not forget that Norway is part of the international pressure on North Korea and we don't want to create the impression there is a split in this pressure.'' The last round of six-party talks was held in November 2005.

Since then the United States has launched a crackdown on firms it suspects of helping North Korea in illicit activity such as currency counterfeiting, and Pyongyang has refused to return to the talks until Washington calls off its drive.


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