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3/8/04 - NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM - 2004-03-09

The U.S. is working with China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia on a plan for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs. Another round of six-party talks was held recently to discuss this issue.

Ban Ki-Moon, South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, was in Washington, D-C. He says that progress is being made:

“As for the North Korean nuclear issues, we share the view that we have produced a generally positive result from the second round of six-party talks, in a sense that we have adopted the first agreed document in the form of a chairman’s statement. And more importantly, we have agreed to continue the process of dialogue by agreeing to the venue and timeline of the third round of six-party talks and also agreed to set up a working group.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell says that the U.S. will be patient in pursuing its policy of nuclear nonproliferation on the Korean peninsula:

“We hope that over time North Korea will come to the conclusion that they are better off as a nation, and their people are better off, by working with us to solve this problem so that we can begin to assist North Korea with its very severe needs with respect to energy and other things that they need.”

Mr. Powell says a diplomatic solution is possible:

“We do not desire any conflict with North Korea. I think we made this clear repeatedly in all of the conversations that we have had in the six-way talks and in other fora.”

Five of the six parties -- the U.S., China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea -- are in agreement that North Korea should end its nuclear weapons programs. The question is, can North Korea be persuaded too?