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US envoy says N.Korea talk situation "difficult"

Written by: Staff

TOKYO, Sep 4 (Reuters) U S Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said today that North Korea is showing no interest in returning to six-party talks on its nuclear weapons programme.

Hill, the top U S point man on North Korea, arrived in Japan at the start of an Asian tour that will also take him to Beijing and Seoul.

''It's very clear we're in a very difficult period in the six-party process,'' he told reporters after his arrival.

''The DPRK (North Korea) has not indicated any interest right now in returning to the process.'' Six-nation talks aimed at scrapping Pyongyang's nuclear programmes broke down in late 2005 over a U.S. crackdown on firms Washington suspects of helping the North in counterfeiting and other illicit activities. North Korea denies any such activities.

North Korea defied international warnings and test-fired seven missiles in early July, including its long-range Taepodong-2 missile, which blew up after less than a minute in the air.

Asked about speculation that North Korea might conduct another missile test in conjunction with Sept. 9, the anniversary of its establishment, Hill said he had not heard of any confirmed information of that kind.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday that North Korea may be preparing for another missile test, but a government official in Seoul discounted the report.

Reuters KR DB1251

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