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Seoul reacts coolly to N. Korea's nuclear pledge


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North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il. - File Photo

SEOUL:  South Korea on Thursday gave a cool response to a North Korean pledge that it would suspend nuclear testing and processing if multilateral disarmament talks reopened “without preconditions.” I don't see any particular progress,” Deputy Spokesman Shin Maeng-Ho of the South's foreign ministry told AFP.

The JoongAng Ilbo newspaper quoted an unidentified government official as saying that Seoul wanted the six-party talks to resume at an early date.

“But the key is whether the North takes actions for denuclearisation before the talks resume. In that sense, the recent announcement fails to show North Korea's sincerity in purpose,” the official told the daily.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il on Wednesday promised Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that his reclusive state was prepared to renounce nuclear testing and processing if the long-stalled discussions resume, during rare talks in Russia.

“Without preconditions, in the course of the negotiations,” the North Koreans will be ready to introduce a moratorium on testing and spent nuclear fuel processing, Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said.

Medvedev told journalists that Pyongyang supported a planned pipeline to carry Russian gas supplies to South Korea through the North, a route that would allow Moscow to reach new energy-hungry Asian markets.

The South demands that the North allow inspectors back to monitor its nuclear sites, stop nuclear processing activities and suspend testing of weapons of mass destruction before the six-party talk’s resume.

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