Nuclear talks suspended after no progress achieved

Talks on ending North Korea's nuclear program recessed Friday with no word of progress toward a settlement, amid rancor between the North and the United States. China said diplomats agreed to meet again as soon as possible but didn't give a date. The latest session of six-nation talks, the fifth in a series, began Wednesday and had been scheduled to recess Friday to let diplomats attend an Asian-Pacific economic conference in South Korea.

The recess came after the North reportedly demanded that the United States lift sanctions on firms accused of weapons proliferation and drop accusations that Pyongyang counterfeits U.S. currency. Washington was pressing the North to suspend work at a plutonium-producing reactor.

China issued a statement as chairman of the talks saying negotiators affirmed that they would "fully implement" a declaration issued at the last round of talks in September, when North Korea promised to disarm in exchange for aid and a security guarantee.

The five-sentence statement said envoys put forward proposals for implementing that September declaration but gave no details.

Participants in the talks are the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

"The parties reaffirmed that they would fully implement the joint statement in line with the principle of `commitment for commitment, action for action,' so as to realize the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula at an early date," the statement said.

The dispute erupted after Washington said North Korean officials admitted operating a secret nuclear program in violation of a 1994 deal that gave the isolated, impoverished North energy aid in exchange for giving up atomic development, the AP reports.

Earlier, North Korea reportedly accused the United States of undermining the cooperative spirit of the talks and demanded that the U.S. lift sanctions against firms suspected of weapons proliferation and stop accusing the North of counterfeiting U.S. money.

The United States was pressing North Korea to shut down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and immediately stop reprocessing plutonium, a fuel for bombs, without waiting for negotiators to draft a disarmament plan.


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