U.S. urges N. Korea to make next move

September 7, 2008 - 0:0

BEIJING (Reuters) -- The United States remains willing to remove North Korea from a list of terror-sponsoring states as soon as the North agrees rules to check its nuclear disclosures, Washington's envoy in disarmament talks said on Saturday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill made the comments ahead of talks in Beijing aimed at shoring up steps to dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program in return for aid and diplomatic concessions.
Envoys from Japan and South Korea, but not so far North Korea, have also gathered in Beijing for the latest talks.
North Korea started to disable its Yongbyon nuclear facility in November, but halted that last month, angered Washington has yet to drop it from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
But Hill said Pyongyang had to agree first on rules allowing inspectors to verify the declaration on its nuclear inventory submitted in June.
""I think obviously we need to get from the North Koreans the means by which we're going to verify the declaration,"" Hill told reporters before heading for discussions with China's envoy in the six party nuclear talks, Wu Dawei.
""Then we'll be prepared immediately to delist them from the terrorism list, which was our agreement.""
The terror list is one of a series of sanctions isolating Pyongyang economically and diplomatically.
Since 2003 China has sponsored the stop-start disarmament negotiations with North Korea, which also include the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia.
Seoul's representative in the talks, Kim Sook, said on Friday that efforts to defang North Korea's nuclear weapons ambitions had reached a ""critical moment."" But without Pyongyang at the latest talks, a breakthrough over the weekend appears unlikely.
Hill said on Friday he would be willing to meet North Korean officials while in Beijing, but said no such meeting was planned.
U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have called North Korea's moves to halt disablement at Yongbyon a negotiating ploy rather than a real effort to restart the aged complex, which experts believe has made enough plutonium for up to eight bombs.
The North has completed most of the disablement steps designed to put it out of plutonium production for at least a year.