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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

N. Korea ready to rejoin nuclear talks any time -- envoy

RIA Novosti

28/11/2006 09:18 BEIJING, November 28 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator said Tuesday the country is ready to rejoin stalled six-party talks on the North Korea nuclear issue.

The six-nation talks, involving North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States, were launched in 2003 to persuade North Korea to give up its controversial nuclear program after Pyongyang withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The talks stalled last November over Pyongyang's demand that the U.S. lift sanctions imposed on it for its alleged involvement in counterfeiting and other illegal activities.

Kim Kye-gwan, currently in Beijing at the invitation of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the head of Washington's delegation to the talks, said North Korea is ready to rejoin the talks "at any time, as we have taken every measure to secure our self-defensive capabilities through a nuclear test."

North Korea announced it conducted its first nuclear test October 9, and threatened to take "physical measures" after the UN Security Council unanimously voted October 14 to pass a resolution imposing sanctions on the reclusive Communist state.

Kim Kye-gwan is expected to meet with Hill. The heads of South Korean and Japanese delegations have also arrived in Beijing for bilateral talks with Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei to discuss the revitalization of the talks.

Russia pursues diplomatic solution to the issue. President Vladimir Putin earlier said: "The situation should never lead to a deadlock. None of the negotiating parties should be driven into a corner, with no way out except by escalating tensions."

The Russian and U.S. presidents discussed the issue on the sidelines of the November 18-19 APEC summit in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, and confirmed the instruction to work towards the quickest resumption of six-party talks.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier said the talks could restart in December.

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