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N Korea Has Started Preparations for Closing Nuclear Facilities
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North Korea told negotiators it has started preparations for shutting down the Yongbyon nuclear facilities, chief negotiator of South Korea Chun Yung Woo said in Beijing Saturday.

The North Korean side talked about the start during a meeting of the denuclearization working group of the six-party talks, which started on Saturday morning in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Chun said.

Meanwhile, the North Korean delegation stressed whether disablement of the nuclear facilities could proceed smoothly depends on other countries' fulfilling of their corresponding commitments, Chun told a press briefing.

The commitments North Korea referred to include that on its accounts in the Banco Delta Asia (BDA), as well as the corresponding measures listed in the Feb. 13 joint statement, Chun said.

If conditions are mature, the North Korean delegation said, it would take relevant measures on its nuclear facilities, including declaration of the facilities and disablement, according to Chun.

During Saturday morning's plenary session, each of the six parties made a key-note speech, and expressed their respective positions concerning the future task of the denuclearization working group, Chun said.

They focused on the topics such as the task of the next phase after the first 60 days, as well as the relations between the denuclearization group and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the South Korean top negotiator said.

Relevant parties proposed to set a time limit for the measures to take in the next phase, he said.

While related countries including South Korea suggested North Korea should declare its enriched uranium, the North Korean delegation replied that the issue can be discussed, according to Chun.

North Korea said it could give an explanation if relevant evidence was presented, Chun added.

South Korean delegation also suggested the parties reach common understanding on the definition of "disablement". Parties concerned consented and agreed to confer the definition of the word through working talks, Chun said.

In the afternoon, South Korea, the United States and Japan held working talks, in which they discussed some hot topics and definitions concerning the implementation of the Feb. 13 joint document, according to him.

The working group meeting is expected to last two days ahead of the fresh round of six-party talks scheduled on Monday, said Chinese chief negotiator Wu Dawei at the beginning of the meeting.

Wu, who heads the working group, presided over the meeting.

Representatives of the other five parties at the working group meeting were: Minister of North Korea to China Kim Song Gi, US top nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill, chief negotiator of South Korea Chun Yung Woo, and Russian ambassador at large Grigory Berdennikov.

Japan was represented by its ambassador in charge of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue Suda Akio and its chief negotiator for six-party talks Kenichiro Sasae.

(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2007)

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