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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia says further talks on N.Korea nuclear problem needed

RIA Novosti

07/09/2006 20:10 MOSCOW, September 7 (RIA Novosti) - A deputy Russian foreign minister said Thursday that six-nation talks on North Korea's controversial nuclear programs should be resumed.

Speaking at a reception in the North Korean Embassy in Moscow, Grigory Karasin said: "Despite continuing difficulties, there are real opportunities and a pressing need to resolve the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula."

The six-nation talks, which involve North and South Korea, Russia, China, Japan and the United States, opened in 2003, but stalled in last November.

In early July, North Korea, which claims it has nuclear weapons, conducted test launches of ballistic missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2, which many countries qualified as an attempt to force the international community, especially the U.S., to make concessions during nuclear talks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said during the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg later in July that China, which has emerged as a major figure at talks with the North, had briefed the G8 leaders on the results of negotiations with the country and expressed cautious optimism that the problem could be resolved through diplomacy.

But media in the U.S. cited in mid-August a senior military official as saying U.S. intelligence had observed suspicious vehicle movements at a North Korean test site. An unidentified senior State Department official later said the U.S. intelligence community considered a test to be a real possibility.

The U.S., which has also accused North Korea of making fake dollars and laundering money via foreign banks, has pressed the Macao bank to freeze Korean accounts.

Karasin said the six-nation talks were the best possible format for addressing the issue.

He said Moscow also backed the need for further contacts between the North and South, which would promote stability on the peninsula.

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