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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Something Smells In North Korea Deal with U.S.

The YonHap News Agency reports that in order to get removed from the terror list, North Korea must denuclearize.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 (Yonhap) -- The United States will talk to North Korea next week about terms for removing it from the list of terrorism-sponsoring nations, a key demand made by Pyongyang in their negotiations toward denuclearization and diplomatic normalization, the top U.S. nuclear envoy said Wednesday.

Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state, would not give any time frame on when North Korea might be delisted. But he said he and his North Korean counterpart would discuss what Pyongyang needs to do and how far North Korea's denuclearization should progress to meet the criteria for removal.

Yet Wapo reports that the U.S. "hints" about flexibility on that key aspect of the agreements.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. pointman on North Korea on Wednesday left open the possibility Pyongyang could be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism before it completely gives up its nuclear programs.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill was speaking ahead of weekend talks with North Korean officials in Geneva that are expected to focus on how North Korea will carry out its commitments to abandon all its nuclear programs.

So, whats the story? Just because the U.S. Pointman left a possibility open to reporters, does this mean that we would bend and accept anything less than complete denuclearization?

There will be top level talks in October between the U.S. and North Korea, but U.S. and North Korean representatives will also be meeting in Geneva on September 1-2.

North Korea agreed with the U.S., South Korea, Russia, China and Japan on Feb. 13 to close its reactor at Yongbyon, which produced weapons-grade plutonium, in return for energy aid.

Envoys for the six countries are trying to agree on terms for disabling all of communist North Korea's nuclear-arms programs. Five working groups were established earlier this year to consider issues of denuclearization, energy assistance, northeast Asia security, North Korea-U.S. links and North Korea- Japan ties. (Source)

Hill said the administration hopes that the two major steps in the next phase of the process—a full declaration of all nuclear assets by North Korea and their verified disablement—can be finished by the end of this year, with final issues to be tackled in 2008. "We have a basis for moving forward," he said repeatedly, in carefully chosen phrasing.

So what is the deal with Wapo reporting with words like "hints" or is that just their interpretation of what was being said?

This definitely warrants watching closely...

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