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Breakthrough Sought In N. Korea Nuke Talks

The chief U.S. and North Korean nuclear negotiators will meet this week in Geneva to seek a breakthrough in stalled disarmament talks, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will meet on Thursday with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan with talks expected to last a day, although they could go longer, the official said.

The main topic will be North Korea's delay in declaring details of its nuclear weapons program, which the North has promised to dismantle in exchange for energy aid, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the precise agenda is confidential.

Pyongyang was obliged to submit the declaration under a deal negotiated as part of six-party talks involving the U.S., North and South Korea, China, Japan and Russia, but Washington has said the one it turned in was not complete.

"The discussions are within the context of the six-party talks about how to move this process forward," the State Department official said.

The dispute has deadlocked the disarmament process, which made major strides last year when the North shut down and began disabling its main nuclear reactor.

On Monday the top U.S. envoy to South Korea reiterated Washington's call for Pyongyang to keep its promise to provide a "complete and correct" declaration.

U.S. ambassador to South Korea Alexander Vershbow made the remarks in a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea. He said there was "a sense of impatience building up" over the North's refusal to do so.