Time running out for Korea's nuclear talks

South Korea's President said yesterday that urgent progress must be made in dismantling North Korea's atomic weapons programme before a key anniversary that could spur Pyongyang to bolster its nuclear capabilities.

President Lee Myung-bak said diplomats must persuade the North to abandon its nuclear aspirations as Pyongyang pushes to create a "powerful, prosperous nation" by 2012; the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, who founded the communist state in 1948.