North Korea's Aid Requests Hold Up Nuclear Talks
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Just a couple of days ago, the U.S. and other nations seemed close to an agreement with North Korea over its nuclear program. Today, those talks are said to be in trouble. They have stalled over North Korea's demand for a lot of energy assistance in exchange for nuclear disarmament.
If these talks fail, it's not clear how diplomats could solve the standoff.
NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports.
ANTHONY KUHN: U.S. and North Korean negotiators agreed on the outlines of a deal last month in Berlin. But according to sources at the talks, the past four days of negotiations have floundered on North Korea's demands for hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel, oil and electricity in return for shutting down its nuclear plant at Yongbyon.
U.S. negotiator Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said that the U.S. understands that Pyongyang needs energy assistance, but he emphasized that any deal should focus on nuclear disarmament, not energy aid.
Mr. CHRISTOPHER HILL (Assistant Secretary of State): We can help them through the provision of some assistance. But that assistance shouldn't be used as a substitute for dealing with the root cause of their isolation, which is their effort to try to develop these weapons.
KUHN: Hill and other diplomats were planning to head home tonight or tomorrow morning with or without a deal. But a South Korean diplomat was quoted as saying that intensive negotiations were still going on and that talks could be extended into tomorrow.
Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.
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