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North Korea, U.S. reach secret deal to break nuclear deadlock, report says

All Headlines 13:35 April 12, 2008

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea and the United States have reached a secret deal to end the impasse in the six-nation talks to dismantle the North's nuclear weapons program, a U.S. government-funded radio station reported Saturday.

Under the secret agreement, reached at a meeting of the top nuclear envoys of the two countries in Singapore early this week, the U.S. will make a declaration of North Korea's alleged uranium enrichment program and nuclear cooperation with Syria on behalf of Pyongyang, Radio Free Asia reported on its Web site, citing "multiple diplomatic sources" in Washington.

In return, the agreement calls for North Korea to "acknowledge" the U.S. concern over the two issues, which have been key sticking points at the six-nation disarmament talks, and not to "challenge the facts," the radio station said.

North Korea and the U.S. agreed to exchange a secret memorandum of understanding on the agreement, it said.

The radio station said North Korea agreed to make a complete and correct declaration of its nuclear weapons program "in the coming weeks."

In a 2007 deal at the six-nation negotiations, North Korea agreed to disclose full details of its nuclear programs by the end of last year in exchange for economic aid and better ties with Washington, including its removal from the U.S. list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

The U.S. claims North Korea let the year-end deadline pass without any action, while North Korea puts the blame on the U.S., arguing that it fulfilled its end of the deal in November.

The U.S. dismisses the north's claim, arguing that its November declaration was "incomplete."

Despite the deadlock, North Korea has made progress in disabling its nuclear facilities by shutting down its main nuclear reactor in Yongbyon.

Earlier this week, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Christopher Hill, Washington's chief negotiator for the six-nation talks, met his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan and later acknowledged that "important" progress was made in Singapore.

However, Hill said more time is needed for the results to materialize.

North korea was more upbeat.

"A consensus was reached on the U.S. measure to make political compensation and the nuclear declaration essential for winding up the implementation of the agreement," North Korea's foreign ministry said in a April 9 report by the country's korean Central News Agency.

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