North Korea ready to disable nuclear programmes: Hill


Seoul/Beijing : US envoy Christopher Hill said Friday North Korea was ready to disable its main nuclear facilities shortly, and reveal all its nuclear programmes.

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"Indeed, the DPRK indicated…they are prepared to disable the Yongbyon facility," nuclear negotiator Hill said at a joint press conference in Seoul with his South Korean counterpart, Chun Yung Woo.

Hill had just returned from Pyongyang where he held talks with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye Gwan, and Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun.

Complete denuclearisation by North Korea can be achieved, said Hill. The process, however, is a huge undertaking and "we are going to have to spend a great deal of time, a great deal of effort, a lot of work in achieving these, a lot of time."

"I think we're talking about trying to have a six-party meeting as soon as possible," Hill said, adding that he had no specific date planned for resuming the nuclear disarmament talks among the six nations involved – the two Koreas, the US, Japan, China and Russia.

Asked about North Korea's commitment to shut down its nuclear facilities and the planned normalization of diplomatic ties with the United States, Hill said US officials were seeking a "comprehensive solution" to both issues.

The agency quoted Hill as saying the September 2005 six-party statement of principles for the denuclearisation of North Korea was "comprehensive" that dealt with both the problems and some of the costs of solving them.

"So away from this two-day set of meetings, I sense that we are going to be able to achieve our full objectives, that is complete denuclearisation of North Korea," he added in Seoul.

Hill had earlier said on Thursday that he hoped to "make up for some time we lost this spring" through his talks this week, referring to the stalling of the six-party process over the transfer of North Korean funds.

His two-day visit was the first by a high-ranking US official to North Korea in five years.

The US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs is currently on a tour of countries involved in the nuclear talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

His trip to Pyongyang came four days after North Korea invited United Nations nuclear inspectors back into the country to begin the process of shutting down the Yongbyon reactor as required by a February 13 six-party agreement.