U.S., Japan say energy aid not discussed ahead of talks with North Korea

The U.S. and Japan have not discussed providing energy aid to North Korea ahead of talks aimed at getting the isolated communist nation to abandon its nuclear program, officials from the two countries said Tuesday.

Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. envoy to the six-party talks that begin Thursday in Beijing, said in Tokyo that North Korea's negotiators have not raised the issue, although he acknowledged there was room to discuss the matter under a September 2005 pledge in which North Korea agreed to give up its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

"I have not discussed this at all in my consultations with (North Korea), though I think it is quite possible that it will come up in our talks this weekend," Hill told reporters after a meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Kenichiro Sasae.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso also said the issue had not been discussed, and said Japan had no plans to provide energy aid reportedly one of North Korea's major demands in return for closing its nuclear reactor, reports AP.

"There has been no progress on nuclear or abduction issues, and it is selfish (for North Korea) to only ask for energy support without making any concessions," he said.

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