U.S. officials said Friday they expect North
Korea to make its long-awaited declaration on its nuclear program very soon,
perhaps within the next few days. The chief U.S. envoy to the disarmament
process, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, is holding talks on the
issue in China, host of the six-party talks. VOA's David Gollust reports from
the State Department.
U.S. diplomats are cautious, given the history of
delays, but they say the declaration is likely to be handed over to China before
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice begins a visit to the region next
North Korea was due to have made the declaration of all its nuclear
programs, holdings and activities - including any involvement in nuclear
proliferation - at the end of last year.
The delay has held up other
aspects of the February 2007 accord, under which Pyongyang is to scrap its
nuclear program in exchange for aid and diplomatic benefits from other parties
to the talks.
After a meeting Friday in Beijing with his Chinese
counterpart Wu Dawei, U.S. delegate Hill said he expects delivery of the
declaration very soon, which he said would immediately trigger a meeting of all
six delegation chiefs - in first in several months.
news briefing, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said the expectation is
based not just on hope, but diplomatic contacts with the North Koreans. He said
the United States has a good idea of what the declaration will contain, given
recent talks with North Korean officials by Hill and State Department Korean
affairs chief Sung Kim, and the trove of nuclear documents handed over to the
United States last month.
"We've talked to them about it," he noted.
"That was what Sung Kim's and Chris Hill's discussions were in large part about
with them: what the declaration would look like. And, of course, we have the
documents that are being analyzed now, the 19,000 documents, so I think we have
a good sense what might be in a North Korean declaration once they hand it over.
But again, it's not done until it's handed over to the
Secretary Rice said in a policy speech Wednesday the North
Korean declaration would trigger action on U.S. obligations in the six-party
accord, including removing Pyongyang from the U.S. list of state-sponsors of
terrorism, and lifting related sanctions.
A U.S. official who spoke to
reporters here said Hill will remain in China for a few days in anticipation of
the six-way meeting, and then in the middle of next week will join up with
Secretary Rice at the start of her Asia trip in Kyoto, Japan.
attend a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Kyoto, and then go on to stops in
South Korea and China likely to be dominated by discussion of the six-party