Official: North Korea OKs nuclear talks
( 2003-08-01 15:30)
North Korea has agreed to multilateral talks on its suspected development of nuclear weapons, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying Friday.
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department had said North Korea appeared ready to accept U.S. President Bush's proposal for six-party talks. The first public word came from Russia, where North Korean Ambassador Pak Ui Chun met with Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov.
But North and South Korea had been silent on the matter.
North Korea agreed to hold six-party talks that would include the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, Lee told local reporters in a briefing. Foreign reporters were barred from the briefing.
Lee said he did not know when the talks would take place.
"North Korea informed our government in the early afternoon yesterday that it accepts six-party talks to discuss ways to resolve the nuclear issue," he said.
"We understand that North Korea informed the United States, Japan, China and Russia of its decision at about the same time it informed us," Lee said. "It was a brief notification and there were no significant conditions or obstacles attached," he said.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan met U.S. Ambassador Thomas Hubbard earlier Friday to discuss the latest developments.
North Korea had insisted for months on one-on-one talks with Washington, and its willingness to accept U.S.-proposed multilateral talks was a concession.
The nuclear standoff began last October with North Korea's acknowledgment to U.S. officials that it has a uranium-based nuclear weapons program. It also has been working on a plutonium-based program in recent months.
North Korea had tried for months to lure the United States into a one-on-one discussion leading to a nonaggression pact.
The United States held out for a broadly based international meeting on the grounds that North Korea's development of nuclear weapons would affect many countries and not just the United States.
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