SEOUL, Jan 19 - North Korea has agreed to resume six-country talks aimed at
winding up its nuclear arms program soon, the US envoy to the thorny
negotiations said on Friday.
"There was an agreement that we felt we can make progress and we should go
ahead and try to schedule a six-party session," Christopher Hill told reporters
in Seoul, commenting on meetings he held with North Korean negotiator
earlier this week.
North Korea, which conducted a nuclear test last October, said only that it
had reached a "certain agreement" with the United States at the talks in Berlin.
But it praised the direct dialogue between the two bitter foes.
In a statement, Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry said: "The talks took place from
January 16 to 18 in a positive and sincere atmosphere and a certain agreement
was reached there."
"We paid attention to the direct dialogue held by the DPRK (North Korea) and
the US in a bid to settle knotty problems in resolving the nuclear issue," the
official KCNA news agency quoted a ministry spokesman as saying.
Hill and the North's Kim Kye-gwan had given no sign of a breakthrough after
their discussions in the German capital.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said he was not sure what
North Korea meant by "certain agreement."
"Chris (Hill) said he wasn't sure either. You will have to ask them," said
Hill said after briefing South Korean officials on Friday that he and Kim had
agreed they were ready to be back at the six-way talks soon and make progress.
North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States participate
in the talks, which began in 2003 and are aimed at persuading the impoverished
country to scrap its nuclear arms development for financial support and security
NEXT FEW WEEKS
The last round of six-party talks, in December -- which took place just two
months after the North conducted its first nuclear test, triggering U.N.
sanctions -- ended inconclusively.
Hill and South Korean envoy Chun Yung-woo said they hoped the next round of
the talks would start before the February 18 Lunar New Year, though the specific
dates would be worked out after they separately meet with China, host of the
Hill will travel to Tokyo and then Beijing this weekend.