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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia urges for U.S., N. Korea to continue nuclear talks

RIA Novosti

11/04/2006 19:40 TOKYO, April 11 (RIA Novosti, Andrei Fesyun) - A high-ranking Russian diplomat said Tuesday that ongoing differences between the parties to the six-nation talks on North Korea's controversial nuclear program which stalled in September could be resolved through bilateral talks, particularly with the U.S.

Alexander Timonin deputy head of the foreign ministry's Asia department, said compromises should be made to encourage the communist state to return to the negotiating table.

At the latest round of talks in September, North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees, but later refused to rejoin the talks until Washington lifted financial sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its alleged involvement in counterfeiting and other illegal activities.

Timonin, speaking on the sidelines of a security conference in Tokyo, said the six delegations supported the earliest possible resumption of the talks involving North Korea, Russia, China, South Korea, the United States and Japan, but that the U.S.- North Korean ongoing dispute was still an obstacle in the settlement process.

"North Korea and the United States should come to an agreement on the form and content of their bilateral relations," Timonin said.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said North Korea must return to the multilateral talks without any conditions, while North Korea's delegate to the nuclear talks, Kim Kye Gwan, reiterated that Pyongyang was ready to return to the six-party talks only after the U.S. lifted economic and financial sanctions imposed against several of its companies, and affiliated banks in Macau, China.

"Russia opposes on principle sanctions against any country if those sanctions are baseless," Timonin said, adding that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has yet to finish investigating deals concluded by several North Korean firms.

"The investigation has not yet been completed, so it is premature to say anything [about sanctions]," he said.

According to the diplomat, no dates for a new round of talks has yet been discussed at the conference, but the delegates have been able to exchange and coordinate their positions on the issue.

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