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US envoy says N Korea watching deal with Iran

Written by: Staff

Shanghai, Sep 11: A senior US envoy said today North Korea had shown little interest in incentives on offer to rein in its nuclear programmes, but that it was keeping nan eye out on what was being offered to Iran.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill decried the fact that North Korea had not returned to multilateral disarmament talks despite agreeing a year ago to scrap its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for economic aid, security assurance and greater diplomatic recognition.

''The North Koreans have continued to refuse to come to the table, they've continued to refuse to implement the agreement they agreed to just one year ago this week,'' Hill told reporters in Shanghai ahead of a visit to Seoul discuss the issue with his South Korean counterpart.

''There is no question that the North Koreans look over at the Iran situation, and look at whether they're getting a similar deal, or something. But I think if they look carefully they will see that North Korea has been offered a very good deal.'' Iran offered a two-month suspension of its nuclear enrichment programme in weekend talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, an EU diplomat said yesterday.

But it was unclear if Iran would meet the Western demand it suspend enrichment before the start of any talks on trade incentives.

North Korea has refused to return to six-party talks, dormant since November, which group it with host China, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

North Korea says the United States must first lift financial restrictions prompted by claims North Korea counterfeited U.S.

money and traded illegal drugs.

''North Korea is not a part of the international community,'' Hill said.

''What the Beijing agreement lays out is the idea they could become a member of the international community, and yet I'm not sure they want to do that.''


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