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Nobel winners call on US to ease up on North Korea

Written by: Staff
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KWANGJU, South Korea, June 17 (Reuters) The United States should end sanctions on North Korea and the North must be open for inspectors to help end a standoff over the North's atomic ambitions, Nobel Peace Prize winners said today.

The recommendation from a group of 10 individuals and organisations who won the Nobel Prize comes as regional tensions are high over the North's refusal to return to six-country nuclear talks and worries it may soon test fire a missile.

The group called on North Korea to return to the stalled six-party nuclear talks and for it to ''completely abandon its nuclear weapons policy and accept international inspectors,'' it said in a statement.

''We also call for the US to end financial and economic sanctions on the DPRK and offer security guarantees,'' it said.

US officials have cracked down on the finances of firms it suspects of aiding North Korea, which is officially called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, in illicit activities such as counterfeiting US currency and drug running.

Washington has objected to those who call the financial measures ''sanctions'', saying it is simply trying to protect its currency and legal norms.

In September 2005, the six parties in the nuclear talks -- the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States -- reached a deal where Pyongyang would scrap its nuclear weapons programmes in exchange for aid and security assurances.

The group of laureates included former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and top officials from Amnesty International.

The group was meeting in the southwestern city of Kwangju for celebrations of Kim's unprecedented summit meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong-il six years ago.

REUTERS SRS RN1408

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