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N. Korea talks make incremental progress

BEIJING - Two days of talks designed to start the process of ridding North Korea of its nuclear arsenal made some progress but fell short of any concrete results, the chief US negotiator said yesterday.

The fact that the talks took place relatively soon after the ascension of the new North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, was in itself helpful and opened a small window on to the secretive country, said the negotiator, Glyn T. Davies.

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“We’ve been able to illuminate the issues a bit better and gain a better understanding of their rationale,’’ Davies said after the final session in Beijing with the North Korean vice foreign minister, Kim Kye Gwan.

The talks focused on trying to persuade the North Koreans to suspend operations at a uranium enrichment plant and to agree to international inspectors to verify the suspension.

In December, just before the death of Kim Jong Il, the Obama administration was believed to have come close to an arrangement for such a freeze.

Davies, without offering specifics, suggested that the talks in Beijing on Thursday and yesterday had again almost reached the goal of suspension of activities at the uranium enrichment plant but narrowly failed to bridge differences.

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