South Korea seeks resumption of nuclear talks with North Korea


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea wants stalled talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programs to resume quickly, Seoul's new nuclear envoy said Thursday.

The disarmament talks have been deadlocked for months over disagreements on whether the communist nation has kept a pledge to declare its nuclear programs.

North Korea has claimed it gave the United States the nuclear list in November. But Washington has said the North never produced a "complete and correct" list that would address all its past activity.

South Korea chief nuclear negotiator Kim Sook said at a news conference that consultations are under way among the parties to quickly convene the talks, which were last held in October. He did not give a specific timeframe.

A meeting earlier this month in Singapore between the U.S. and the North appears to have paved the way for a breakthrough.

"The six-way talks could be resumed" after China distributes the North's declaration to other countries at the talks, Kim said. North Korea is required to submit its declaration to China, the host of talks that also include the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.

Kim's comments came as U.S. diplomats planned to visit North Korea in an attempt to nudge along a face-saving deal struck earlier this month in Singapore between U.S. and North Korean envoys.

If all goes well, North Korea could produce a long-promised accounting of its nuclear past by the end of April. The Bush administration would then move to lift sanctions on the secretive communist regime, a reward it has long sought.

The U.S. and its partners Russia, China, South Korea and Japan, plan to form a verification committee as part of their attempt to make sure that the North provide a full accounting of its nuclear program and past activities.

Kim called for a thorough verification but said it will take time.

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