North Korea urged to disable nuclear programmes

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BEIJING, Sept 28 (Reuters) Talks on disarming North Korea aim to lay out a roadmap for disabling the country's nuclear programmes, the US envoy said today, conceding there was not yet agreement on even defining the term.

Under an accord reached in February, North Korea must disable its atomic facilities and make a complete declaration of all its nuclear programmes. In return, the impoverished communist state, formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), will receive a massive injection of fuel aid.

''The DPRK has agreed to some steps and I think we've looked at what they've agreed to and, frankly, we'd like more and they'd like less and let's see what we end up with,'' US negotiator Christopher Hill told reporters.

He said the six countries at the Beijing talks -- the United States, the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and China -- would study a draft text on Friday that would set targets up to the end of the year for the disablement of the North's nuclear programmes.

But he added: ''We don't have an agreement on what constitutes disabling yet'', suggesting a lot of ground remained to be covered between the two main protagonists in the negotiating session, which is meant to end on Sunday.

South Korean envoy Chun Young-woo said the differences were not insurmountable.

''There are some differences regarding North Korea's level of disablement and declaration from the level that other countries expect but I think it will not be impossible to overcome these differences,'' South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted Chun as saying.

''North Korea in its own way has a strong will that it must produce an outcome from this meeting.'' ''CONCLUSIVE DOCUMENT'' Russian envoy Alexander Losyukovon said the parties might hold discussions on passing a ''conclusive document'' on Saturday or Sunday, Xinhua news agency said.

North Korea shut down and sealed its Soviet-era Yongbyon nuclear plant and allowed UN atomic energy monitors back to the site in July, its first steps in seeing through the breakthrough Feb 13 deal.

In return, Pyongyang has received shiploads of heavy fuel oil and held long-sought bilateral talks with the United States that could bring the fortress state out of diplomatic isolation.

But the country must still move ahead to disable its nuclear arms programmes before it receives 950,000 tonnes of heavy fuel -- crucial to North Korea, which is so poor it cannot afford fuel to run its factories or even its traffic lights.

''For disabling to be meaningful, it has to involve a concept of it being difficult for the DPRK to reconstitute its nuclear programmes,'' said Hill.

Asked whether he had raised the issue of speculation that North Korea had supplied nuclear knowhow to Syria, Hill said: ''We have raised the issue very forcefully on the overall question of proliferation and the need to do something about proliferation.'' REUTERS SS KN1432

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