U.S. and North Korea to meet one-on-one during nuclear talks

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill was heading into a one-on-one meeting with the North Korean delegation at international nuclear disarmament talks that resumed Tuesday in Beijing after a five-week recess.

Hill said the North Koreans have raised new issues that go beyond a draft agreement being negotiated by the six countries at the talks, such as the construction of a civilian light-water nuclear reactor to supply energy.

"I think they should focus on what is on the table," Hill said of the North Koreans ahead of his meeting with them. "If it's electricity they want, the draft certainly provides electricity."

The six-party talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program were put on hold six weeks ago when envoys were unable to agree on a draft statement of principles. The countries involved China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas have agreed to pick up this week where they left off in discussing that document.

Hill said none of North Korea's five negotiating partners have expressed willingness to build a new light-water reactor for the North. Instead, he said Pyongyang could get energy under a South Korean proposal to deliver electricity across their heavily militarized border.

In the North Korean capital, the two Koreas held separate high-level talks. Seoul's top official on the North, Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, appealed Wednesday to the North to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.

The North "must seize on this historic opportunity," Chung said, according to pool reports. "Delaying will do no good ... let's produce a good outcome," reports the AP.

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