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N. Korea talks may end without agreement
Updated: 2005-08-03 07:11

BEIJING - Breaking its public silence on nuclear disarmament talks, North Korea said Tuesday it wants to narrow differences with the United States but still insisted it won't give up its atomic weapons program until Washington withdraws alleged threats, AP reported.

Christopher Hill, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and chief negotiator for the six-party talks, speaks to journalists at his hotel in Beijing August 1, 2005. [Reuters]

The main U.S. envoy said talks were nearing their conclusion possibly within days with delegates from six countries set to submit final comments Wednesday on a draft proposed by China for a statement of principles to guide future arms negotiations.

However, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill raised the possibility the discussions might break off without an agreement, with envoys heading home for further counsel.

"Whether we have a draft that everyone agrees on, or whether it's decided that there should be a recess of some kind, we don't know yet," Hill said, adding negotiators were "close to the end of this round" after eight days of talks.

Hill said the latest version of the statement was "a good draft" that he had submitted to Washington for review, but he didn't know how other delegations would respond. He declined to give any specifics of what the document contained.

Hill appeared noticeably more upbeat after Tuesday's meetings compared to his pessimism the day before, but cautioned: "I don't think one can talk about progress until you actually see the agreement."
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