Top US envoy in North Korea to salvage disarmament deal

October 1st, 2008 - 5:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Pyongyang, Oct 1 (Xinhua) Top US envoy to the denuclearisation talks with North Korea Christopher Hill arrived in Pyongyang Wednesday morning to discuss ways to salvage the faltering disarmament deal. The official KCNA news agency said in a one-sentence report that the US delegation led by Hill was here in Pyongyang Wednesday.

Hill told reporters Tuesday on arriving at the Seoul international airport in South Korea en route to Pyongyang that his visit would focus on the verification issue and reiterated that Washington was ready to remove Pyongyang from a terrorism list when verification procedures are agreed to, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

The inclusion of North Korea in the US list as state sponsor of terrorism has blocked US and multilateral aid to the impoverished communist-ruled country.

During talks in February 2007 with the United States, Japan, China, Russia and South Korea, North Korea had agreed to disable the Yongbyon facilities in exchange for economic aid, political concessions and removal of its name from the terror list.

It began disabling its facilities in November and in June blew up a cooling tower. But the deal ran aground in late July when Washington delayed Pyongyang’s removal from the terrorism list until it agreed to verification.

Pyongyang protested, saying verification was never part of the pact, and stopped disabling the plant in mid-August. On Sep 19, Pyongyang announced it had begun the work to restore its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon.

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