N. Korea Welcomes Talks on Nuclear Program

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In China, diplomats from six countries discuss initial steps toward dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Talks on the issue have been stalled since December.

Upon arriving for the talks, North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye Gwan, indicated that he was ready to get down to the nuts and bolts of nuclear disarmament. "We are prepared to discuss first-stage measures," Kim said.

"We are going to make a judgment based on whether the United States will give up its hostile policy and move towards peaceful coexistence."

This represents a turnaround from December, when North Korea refused to discuss its nuclear programs until the US lifted its financial sanctions on Pyongyang. The deadlock seemed to break a bit last month, when Kim met in Berlin with his U.S. counterpart, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill.

"We had a good first day today," Hill said. A central part of the denuclearization approach adopted by the United States, Japan, China, South Korea and Russia is that North Korea allow its nuclear program to be monitored.

The country expelled United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in 2002.



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