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North Korea Agrees to Return to Nuclear Talks

Despite the apparent progress, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cautioned it is not enough to have talks; progress must be made.

The fourth round of negotiations, involving North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, are scheduled for the week of July 25.

Rice, speaking to reporters Sunday in Beijing after meetings with Chinese officials, said July’s talks, which are the first in more than a year, are a first step.

“It is not the goal of the talks to have talks. It is the goal of the talks to have progress,” she said, according to the Washington Post.

U.S. officials traveling with Rice in China said the United States is willing to alter some of the terms of its proposal to resolve the impasse over North Korea’s nuclear program.

The American proposal, offered in June 2004, was denounced by North Korea as unbalanced because the government would have had to disclose all of its nuclear programs and have them verified before the United States took any steps in return.

The officials, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said they wanted to hear from the North about how the steps could be arranged to their liking, reported the Post.

U.S. officials also cautioned that they are not sure whether North Korea agreeing to return to the table is a genuine desire to negotiate an end to its nuclear program or another stalling technique to allow it to build up its program even more.

South Korea’s top negotiator in the upcoming talks, meanwhile, said Monday North Korea could only be persuaded to drop its nuclear program if the participating nations address its motivation.

“The most important thing is North Korea giving up its nuclear development, but there are motives and reasons why the North wants to have nuclear programs,” Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-soon said on a radio program.

He also said the six nations must take into account the political and economic ramifications of any deal.

Analysts have said North Korea sees the weapons as a deterrent against the United States and as giving the communist nation of 22.5 million people some international stature, according to Reuters.

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