Efforts must continue on North Korea nuclear issue: Ban Ki-moon

December 13th, 2008 - 3:43 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Dec 13 (DPA) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Friday called for efforts to verify the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, despite another impasse in the negotiations this week.The six-party talks in Beijing ended Thursday with North Korea apparently rejecting a compromise proposal on procedures to verify disablement of its disputed nuclear programme.

The parties involved in the talks are China, the US, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas.

Ban said in a statement that there had been serious talks in Beijing, but differences remained, including terms of verification of North Korea’s nuclear status.

He said he “strongly supports the goal of verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.”

“In this regard, I appreciate that the parties have reaffirmed this goal and unanimously agreed to advance the six-party talks,” he said.

Ban called on the parties to overcome their remaining differences and complete the implementation of the second-phase actions in the near future. He said he stands ready to assist in any way possible to help toward this end.

Meanwhile, heavy fuel oil shipments to North Korea have been cut off as Pyongyang has refused to sign onto a process for ensuring that it is complying with the agreement to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme, the US State Department has said.

“This is an action-for-action process, and certainly the United States - and I think this is the understanding of other parties - is that future fuel shipments aren’t going to move forward absent a verification regime,” spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday.

North Korea in 2007 agreed to give up its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for economic and energy aid from the five other countries and improved diplomatic ties with Washington.

The US in August removed North Korea from its state sponsors of terrorism blacklist after Pyongyang disclosed the extent of its nuclear activities. The five other countries in the six-nation talks also want to establish a process for ensuring that North Korea provides a truthful declaration.

The chief US envoy, Christopher Hill, has returned to Washington. The impasse is a setback for President George W. Bush, who has been trying to secure a deal with North Korea before he leaves office next month.

McCormack said the five countries would continue consultations and there still remained a chance to come to an arrangement.

“There’s the opportunity for North Korea to sign on to this verification protocol. That still exists. We’ll see. The ball is in their court,” McCormack said.

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