South Korean president urges Seoul's mediation on North Korea - U.S. nuclear talks

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun asked Seoul's negotiators on nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea to mediate during a three-week recess so that differences over Pyongyang's desire for peaceful nuclear programs could be successfully resolved.

The six-party talks were suspended Sunday after 13 days of inconclusive negotiations for a recess, split mainly over differences between North Korea and the United States over the North's aim to be able to run a peaceful nuclear program after it dismantles its atomic weapons programs.

At a lunch at the presidential Blue House, Roh praised the South Korean delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-soon for playing a central role during the talks in Beijing, Roh's spokesman Kim Man-soo said in a statement.

Roh found "significant results" had been achieved at the fourth round of six-party talks in that members agreed on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the North's renouncing of its nuclear weapons program and the U.S. gesture to normalize relations with North Korea.

However, none of those supposed agreements have been codified in any joint statement by the countries involved, which failed to agree on a statement of principles during the talks.

Seoul will be pressing other partners at the talks to try and seek a compromise before they reconvene the week of Aug. 29.

Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon leaves Thursday for China on a three-day visit, the ministry said in a statement, and will meet Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and other senior officials for consultations. Ban is expected to visit the United States next week.

The United States has opposed allowing North Korea any kind of nuclear technology, saying it has a history of turning such devices into those that can produce weapons, the AP reports.

U.S. President George W. Bush endorsed South Korea's proposal of energy aid to the North as another reason why Pyongyang doesn't need any kind of nuclear program, even for power generation.

"The South Koreans have said, we'll build and share power with you, which seems to me to make a good - good sense, so long as the North Koreans give up their nuclear weapons, so long as there's full transparency, so long as there's the ability for the international community to know exactly what's going on in a potential weapons program," Bush said Tuesday at his Texas ranch.

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