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US, North Korea talks make progress, but reach no agreement
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The United States and North Korea made progress Thursday in their nuclear talks, but failed to reach any specific agreement, the chief US negotiator said.

"I would say there has been progress, but we are not there yet, we still have to tackle a lot of sort of opening questions," US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters after one day of talks with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan.

Hill said the two sides had very good and substantive discussions on all issues related to the October agreement, including the format of North Korea's "complete and correct" nuclear declaration and the heavy fuel oil assistance it was to receive.

"We moved those issues forward compared with when we arived here this morning. But I'm not in a position to say we've solved these matters," he said.

He said the two sides agreed to proceed on the basis of Thursday's talks. "Our hope is that we can achieve what we need, which is a declaration which will be complete and correct, and the declration will be provided to the Chinese, as chair of the six-party process."

On the prospects of resuming the six-party process, Hill said there is still work to do.

"I want to emphasize that what we did today was not decisional...I don't want to suggest we have paved the way, and we are waiting for the cement to dry in order to move foward," he said. 

Hill said he and Kim now need to report the Geneva discussions to their respective capitals. Whether the talks will continue Friday is still not decided yet.

The two sides started the talks at the US mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva Thursday with the aim of breaking the impasse over the Korean Peninsula's nuclear issue.

The six-party talks have been stalled since last December due to differences between the United States and North Korea over the latter's declaration of nuclear programs.

(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2008)

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