North Korea to rejoin nuclear disarmament talks

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The Independent Online

North Korea has agreed to rejoin multi-nation nuclear disarmament talks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced today.

Chief envoys to the negotiations from China, North Korea and the United States held an informal meeting in Beijing today and agreed to resume larger six-nation talks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

"The three parties agreed to resume the six-party talks at the earliest convenient time," the statement said.

The agreement, if realised, marks a breakthrough in the long-stalled talks and comes after North Korea detonated a nuclear device three weeks ago.

North Korea has boycotted the negotiations, which also include Japan, Russia and South Korea, for a year, to protest against US financial sanctions.

Meanwhile, North Korea today warned South Korea on against participating in a US led international drive to stop and search ships for weapons of mass destruction, saying it would bring about unspecified "catastrophic consequences"

The warning came as South Korea was considering whether to fully participate in the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative aimed at intercepting shipments of weapons of mass destruction and other suspected cargo.

Seoul has been reluctant to take full part in the PSI out of concern it may anger North Korea and complicate efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.

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