N Korea nuclear talks adjourned

GENEVA (AFP) - The United States and North Korea yesterday suddenly adjourned high-level talks on Pyongyang's suspected nuclear weapons programme, suggesting that the discussions have hit hurdles. After a meeting in the morning, an afternoon session between the two full delegations was abruptly cancelled.

A North Korean diplomat said: 'My understanding is that this is a short break, because the negotiations will probably restart tomorrow.' But the US mission to the United Nations said the full-blown discussions would resume only 'as warranted' following expert-level talks that might take place today.

The US mission said it expected the talks, the first since the death last month of the North Korean leader, Kim Il Sung, to conclude no later than tomorrow. On Monday the two sides had reported some progress in resolving the dispute.

Washington is demanding that North Korea open its nuclear facilities to full international inspection, to disprove Western allegations that it may be developing nuclear weapons. A key issue is the fate of 8,000 rods of spent nuclear fuel, removed from the controversial Yongbyon reactor in June. North Korea says the rods must be reprocessed soon for safety reasons because they are corroding.

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