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N Korea, US Reach Deal in Geneva
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North Korea has agreed to declare and disable all its nuclear facilities by the end of this year, the chief US negotiator said yesterday.

US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill addresses a media briefing outside the US Mission after bilateral talks with North Korea in Geneva September 2, 2007.

US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said two days of talks between the United States and North Korea in Geneva had been "very good and very substantive" and would help improve chances of a successful meeting later this month with Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea and China in six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program and improving relations between North Korea and other countries.

"One thing that we agreed on is that North Korea will provide a full declaration of all of their nuclear programs and will disable their nuclear programs by the end of this year, 2007," Hill told reporters.

Hill said the declaration will also include uranium enrichment programs, which the United States fears could be used to make nuclear weapons.

He said he and Kim Gye-gwan, the head of North Korean delegation, had discussed the full range of issues in their two days of talks at the US and North Korea missions to UN offices in Geneva.

Kim did not comment immediately to reporters outside the North Korea mission, but said he might make a statement later.

Hill said earlier yesterday that improving US relations with North Korea will depend on other progress in the talks, saying it "is a relationship that we will continue to try to build step by step with the understanding that we're not going to have a normalized relationship until we have a denuclearized North Korea."

"To the extent that we can move quickly to denuclearization, we can move quickly to normalization," he added.

Hill said both sides also discussed what needs to be done for Pyongyang to be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

He said they also had a good discussion of what North Korea wants to achieve and how it can improve relations with Japan.

He said he expected the next full session of the six-party talks would be held in mid-September and that it would produce a "more detailed implementation plan for 'disablement' of Pyongyang's nuclear facilities."

The meeting in Geneva was part of a flurry of "working group" sessions called for in February's six-party accord in which North Korea agreed to disable its plutonium-producing nuclear reactor and declare and eventually dismantle all its nuclear activities.

In exchange, the economically struggling North Korea will receive oil and other aid. The US, as part of the agreement, promised to begin the process of removing the country from the terrorism list and work toward full diplomatic relations.

(China Daily via agencies September 3, 2007)

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