The United States on Friday urged China to persuade its longtime ally North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons without receiving a reactor for generating power, hoping to salvage stalled six-nation talks on the North's atomic programs.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the talks were in a "stalemate," with North Korea demanding a light-water reactor before dismantling its nuclear weapons program.
The North has been offered economic aid, security guarantees from Washington and free electricity from South Korea in exchange for bowing to demands that it give up the weapons program, according to the AP.
"I hope that China will feel a certain responsibility to try to convince the DPRK that the deal is there on the table and it only awaits the decision of the DPRK to take that deal," Hill said Friday morning, referring to the North by the initials of its official name.
In New York, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said any comprehensive settlement of the nuclear standoff would have to include normalization of relations between North Korea and the United States.
Roh, who is attending a U.N. summit, said he was optimistic the crisis could be resolved but that it still makes him nervous.
"Every time I think about the North Korean nuclear weapons issue, I always pray to God," he said. "I ask you to do the same."
Despite the nuclear standoff, the North and South have continued reconciliation efforts while remaining technically at war. On Friday at high-level talks between the two sides in Pyongyang, the Koreas pledged to work to ensure peace and reduce military tensions on the divided peninsula.
Hill and other delegates said the talks would continue, with no end date set. The latest nuclear talks reconvened following a five-week recess after the last session failed to yield an agreement during 13 days of meetings.
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