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US-DPRK Agreement Possible on Nuclear Issue
South Korean President Kim Dae-jung said on Thursday it is possible for the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to reach agreement on the escalating nuclear issue, the national news agency Yonhap News reported early Friday morning.

"There still remains the possibility of an agreement between the two sides concerning the nuclear issue," Kim said during a New Year's meeting attended by senior officials of the legislative, judicial and administrative branches of the country.

The president said, at present, the DPRK insists it will give up its nuclear weapons development program if the United States guarantees its security, while the US pledges to offer such a guarantee if the DPRK abandons its nuclear weapons program first.

Kim said South Korea) should encourage the DPRK and the United States "to deal with the nuclear issue through dialogue."

"We (South Korea) should take part in resolving the matter as a concerned party so we could achieve the goal," he added.

The South Korean government has launched a series of diplomatic and mediation efforts to ease the tension on the Korean Peninsula.

The Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group, consisting of South Korea, the United States and Japan, will hold a meeting in Washington early next week to coordinate their policies on the issue.

The DPRK decided on Dec. 12 to unfreeze its nuclear program after the United States suspended the supply of heavy fuel oil. It then removed the surveillance devices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from its nuclear facilities.

Under the 1994 Agreed Framework, the DPRK should freeze its graphite-moderated reactors, which could be used to produce nuclear weapons, in return for two light-water reactors and 500,000 tons of heavy oil a year from the United States.

US President George. W. Bush said Thursday from his private ranch in Crawford, Texas, that he believed the situation with the DPRK will be resolved peacefully, and reaffirmed: "It's a diplomatic issue, not a military issue."

(Xinhua News Agency January 3, 2002)

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