Second day of nuclear talks brought no real progress

The top U.S. delegate at six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions dismissed its demands to be allowed a civilian atomic energy program on Wednesday, the second day of negotiations.

Christopher Hill instead urged the North to focus on a draft joint statement, which sets out the principle of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and contains an offer from South Korea to provide conventional energy to its impoverished neighbor.

"I think they should focus on what is on the table," Hill told reporters after lunch with South Korea's chief negotiator, Song Min-soon.

"One of the most important elements on the table is ... a very significant conventional energy proposal, which would get for the DPRK electricity at a very early date," he said, adding that there were no plans for a light-water reactor in the draft.

The six countries, the United States, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas, agree in principle to denuclearizing the divided Korean peninsula. But Pyongyang and Washington, the main protagonists, are at odds over how to reach that goal, according to Reuters.

The United States, which once described North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran and pre-war Iraq, insists that Pyongyang must dismantle all nuclear programs verifiably and irreversibly, after which it could expect energy aid and security guarantees.

The North wants aid and guarantees first and the right to keep civilian programs.

In Beijing, the six delegations gathered at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on Tuesday to reopen the fourth round of open-ended talks that started in late July and lasted 13 days before breaking for a recess. The first round began in 2003.

On photo: top negotiator for the six-party talks Christopher Hill.

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