N.Korea pledges to denuclearize in talks

Updated: 2007-03-01 19:45
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SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea's No. 2 leader pledged his country's commitment Thursday to giving up its nuclear program during a meeting with a visiting high-level South Korean delegation.

"The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the dying wish" of the country's late founding president Kim Il Sung, said Kim Yong Nam. The North "will make efforts to realize it," he said.

At the meeting, South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung pressed North Korea to implement a February 13 pledge to take initial steps to disarm.

"It is important to make efforts to ensure that South and North Korea cooperate and six countries each assume their responsibilities," Lee said in reference to the accord reached last month in Beijing between North Korea and five other countries.

This week's Cabinet-level talks between the North and South - the highest-level regular contact between the Koreas - are the first in seven months. The talks resumed after North Korea's pledge to shut down its main nuclear reactor within 60 days in exchange for aid.

Earlier Thursday, North Korean negotiators appealed for aid from the South, but Seoul appeared resistant to promising any major assistance until Pyongyang keeps its pledge to start dismantling its nuclear program.