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10 months after last talks, Koreas meet again

Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea – North and South Korea resumed talks today after a 10-month break, a development that came as a top U.S. security official promised “action” against North Korea if it carried out a nuclear test.

South Korea said it planned to use the talks to urge the North to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

A Japanese official on Sunday echoed comments from Stephen Hadley, President Bush’s national security adviser, that a North Korean nuclear test would provoke action against the reclusive communist regime.

“We’ve seen some evidence that says that they may be preparing for a nuclear test,” Hadley said in an interview with CNN. “Obviously, that would be a serious step, and it would require us to consult very closely with our colleagues on the six-party talks for what kind of response we should make.”

He said a nuclear test “would be something where the North Koreans would be defying not only us, but our partners in the six-party talks, and action would … have to be taken.”

Last week, North Korea ratcheted up the issue by claiming it had completed removing spent fuel rods from a reactor at its main nuclear complex – a process that could allow it to harvest more weapons-grade plutonium – and said it would strengthen its nuclear arsenal.

That has raised concerns about a possible nuclear test, spurring the public warnings by U.S. and Japanese officials.

A South Korean delegation commuted today to the two-day talks in the North Korean town of Kaesong. Seven hours of discussions were set each day.

The meeting coincides with efforts to resume nuclear disarmament talks involving the United States, Russia, China, Japan and the two Koreas.

Washington’s top envoy met today with his South Korean counterpart.

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