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US legislators urge political statement from N. Korea
Updated: 2005-09-08 09:36

US legislators warned North Korea not to expect any concessions unless it adopts a basic political statement to help end the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula, AFP reported.

Ahead of the resumption of the six-party talks next week, Pyongyang is insisting that the United States should allow it the right to use civilian nuclear energy in return for disbanding its atomic arms program.

But US Democratic and Republican legislators said Congress could not consider providing any concessions to North Korea, especially the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, unless it agreed to a "statement of principles" emphasizing denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

"Insistance upon specifics at this stage, given the history of the relationship, may not be a very useful negotiating tactic," said Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives international relations committee.

"If you couple this -- because I think they need to be coupled -- with the attention of Congress and the American people now being shifted strongly to domestic issues, dilatory tactics are likely to bring about a breakdown of the discussion and failure," he warned.

The six-party talks with host China, the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Russia and Japan were adjourned on August 7 after Washington rejected Pyongyang's demand for its "unconditional right" to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The United States says North Korea should not exercise that right as Pyongyang has acknowledged using its civilian nuclear program in the past as a cover for making weapons.

Jim Leach, the Republican chairman of the House subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, gave an ominous outlook ahead of the resumption of the six-party talks next week, most probably on September 13.

"It is going to be very, very difficult" to achieve wording in a statement of principles acceptable to all parties, he said.

"The trust has broken down. It will take some time to change attitudes and attitudes are going to be needed to develop trust," Leach said, urging North Korea to take steps to rebuild the trust by first agreeing on the statement of principles.

Both the legislators have just returned from a rare trip to Pyongyang, where they discussed the issue with leaders of teh country.

Under a 1994 deal known as the Agreed Framework, which ended a previous North Korean nuclear weapons showdown, the United States agreed to provide fuel for North Korea until an international consortium built light-water nuclear reactors to generate power.

Washington contends the North reneged on that deal by mounting a secret program to enrich uranium, an allegation that triggered the current crisis.

The North has always denied a uranium-based program. But it raised the stakes in February by declaring that it had produced nuclear weapons and would manufacture more.

Christopher Hill, the chief US negotiator at the six-party talks, said last month that he did not believe the civilian nuclear issue was "a show-stopper" to any agreement on ridding the peninsula of nuclear weapons.

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