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N. Korea to abandon nuke weapon efforts
Updated: 2005-09-19 16:04

Washington had threatened, once again, it was prepared to take tougher measures, including freezing North Korean assets abroad and pushing for international sanctions, if the latest round of talks collapsed.

Christopher Hill, the chief American negotiator, had said before the agreement was announced that he was determined to end the discussions and return to Washington. The breakthrough came at the last minute, after American officials had prepared to wrap up the negotiations without an accord.

More generally, it would appear to boost support for people inside the Bush administration who favored pursuing laborious negotiations with the North Koreans. Hardliners in the administration and in Congress had raised questions about the usefulness of negotiations with the North.

The United States and North Korea also pledged to respect each other's sovereignty and right to peaceful coexistence and to work toward normalization of relations. The two countries have no full diplomatic relations and did not sign a peace treaty after the Korean War.

North Korean officials had also demanded the country be given a light-water nuclear reactor at the latest talks, but Washington had said it and other countries at the talks wouldn't meet that request.

Putting aside the question for now, the joint statement said: "The other parties expressed their respect and agreed to discuss at an appropriate time the subject of the provision of light-water reactor" to North Korea.

Pyongyang has also refused to totally disarm without getting concessions along the way, while Washington has said it wants to see the weapons programs totally dismantled before granting rewards. The statement, however, says the sides agree to take steps to implement the agreement "in a phased manner in line with the principle of 'commitment for commitment, action for action.'"

The other countries at the talks said they were willing give energy assistance to the North, including a South Korean plan to deliver electricity across the heavily armed border dividing the peninsula.

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