North Korea Said to Agree to Nuclear Deal

A top U.S. negotiator says North Korea will dismantle its nuclear program by the end of the year. But the head of North Korea's delegation would not confirm a precise schedule.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

As Pakistan anticipates its future, the situation may have become slightly less tense with another country: North Korea. That country says the United States has agreed to remove it from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism. That development comes after two days of talks between the US and North Korea in Geneva, Switzerland. Earlier, the chief American negotiators said North Korea agreed to declare all its nuclear programs and disable them by the end of this year. Here's NPR's Louisa Lim.

LOUISA LIM: Pyongyang has long wanted to be removed from the US blacklist. Now the reclusive North Korean state is saying the US has agreed to take that step. In a statement on the official KCNA news agency, an unnamed foreign ministry spokesman said the US would also fully lift sanctions imposed under the law of trading with enemy countries. However, no such announcement was made either by the US side or the North Koreans in separate new conferences after weekend talks in Geneva. Then the American negotiator - Christopher Hill - had focused on an agreement with North Korea - or the DPRK - on a timetable for declaring and disarming its nuclear program.

Mr. CHRISTOPHER HILL (US Negotiator): One thing that we agreed on is that the DPRK will provide a full declaration of all of their nuclear programs, and will disable their nuclear programs by the end of this year.

LIM: Even on this, there is still much ground for disagreement. For example, a definition of what is meant by disabling facilities. Analysts have noted that details of the agreement - such as who does what first - could still be a problem. Others have questioned the sincerity of the North Koreans. It may be no coincidence that the North Korean announcement was made on a US public holiday. This is a regular tactic in North Korea's public relations arsenal of bluster, brinksmanship and surprise. Last year, Pyongyang conducted a missile test, including a long-range weapon, on Independence Day.

Louisa Lim, NPR News, Shanghai.

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