North Korea edging closer towards giving up nukes: U.S. envoy


BEIJING — North Korea has agreed to take further steps towards ending its nuclear weapons programmes but more needs to be done in pushing forward a landmark deal, the U.S. envoy to disarmament talks said Friday.

After the six-nation talks wrapped up for a second day, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill emphasised the complexity of ironing out a timetable for the secretive communist regime to declare and disable all of its nuclear programmes this year. “It was a pretty busy day. We were dealing with a lot of pretty complex and technical matters,” Hill told reporters.

“It’s not easy. The reason it is not easy is it’s never been done before. We are in terra incognita.”

Earlier on Friday, Hill said North Korea has agreed to certain steps in declaring and disabling its programmes but that it differed with other parties over some of the details.

He had also said China, the host of the talks, was expected to distribute a draft joint statement on Friday from all six parties that would lay out exactly what North Korea should do by the end of the year.

However, the draft has been held up, he later said, though he stressed that a written statement spelling out the way forward would be released by the end of the talks, which wrap up Sunday.

“I think we will have something out on paper as we usually do,” Hill said.

The chief envoys from the six nations — China, the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia — met briefly together in the morning before going into a hectic round of bilateral encounters and another group session in the afternoon.

North Korea had signalled ahead of this week’s session that it was willing to continue pushing ahead with a landmark disarmament deal brokered in February in the six nation forum.