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North Korea, U.S. Hold Direct Talks In Beijing

U.S. envoy Christopher Hill (file photo) (AFP) December 19, 2006 -- North Korean and U.S. financial officials today discussed the United States' economic sanctions against Pyongyang, on the sidelines of a six-party meeting in Beijing.

The Beijing talks are the first international negotiations in more than a year aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear-weapons program.

The six-way meeting began on December 18, but today marked the first bilateral talks between the United States and North Korea.

The chief U.S. envoy to the negotiations, Christopher Hill, said the United States has renewed its objections to North Korea's nuclear program.

"We've made very clear we are not going to live with their nuclear weapons," Hill said. "No country is going to accept that North Korea should have nuclear weapons. North Korea needs schools, health stations, roads, airports. They need a lot of things. They need food. They need electricity. They don't need nuclear weapons."

The restart of the negotiations came after North Korea's first test of a nuclear device two months ago.

(compiled from agency reports)