1. Chief U.S. Nuclear Negotiator Arrives in Pyongyang
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Chief U.S. nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday in the latest U.S. effort to convince the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program.
Hill, who was invited to visit by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is the first high-ranking U.S. negotiator to visit in nearly five years.
Upon his arrival at the airport, Hill, head of the U.S. delegation at the six-party talks, told Xinhua that he hoped to "get the six-party talks process moving."
Hill, a U.S. assistant secretary of state, will focus on making progress on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
"We hope we can make up for some time we lost this spring," said Hill, adding "I'm looking forward to the discussion about that."
Hill was greeted at the airport by Li Geun, director of DPRK Foreign Ministry's America Bureau.
Hill said he was here at the invitation of the DPRK side but did not go into details about his schedule.
"I don't know yet (whom I am going to meet), my host, I think, will have the schedule," Hill said.
Hill's trip came after the resolution of a banking dispute that had held up progress of the six-party talks, which involve the United States, the DPRK, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia.
The DPRK's ambassador to Russia Kim Yong Che said earlier this week that the funds of 25 million U.S. dollars had arrived at the Central Bank of Russia and will be transferred to the DPRK foreign trade bank via a Russian bank.
The ambassador reaffirmed the DPRK's readiness to fulfill all its commitments undertaken at the six-party talks. The DPRK has insisted that the funds frozen at the bank be returned before any new negotiations are conducted.
Hill is scheduled to conclude his trip on Friday.
DPRK said last Saturday it invited inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to discuss shutting down the Yongbyon reactor, as required under the accord reached in China on Feb 13.
Under the February deal, DPRK was supposed to shut down the Yongbyon reactor within 60 days in exchange for some 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil or equivalent aid.
1. EU's Solana Confirms Saturday Talks with Iran Nuclear Envoy
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EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana confirmed Thursday that he would hold talks with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, in Portugal this weekend.
"I can confirm the meeting Saturday with Larijani in Lisbon," he told reporters here. The two men have been holding a series of talks aimed at resolving the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme, which is feared to be a cover for an atomic weapons drive.
The oil-rich Islamic republic insists it only wants to make nuclear fuel to meet its growing energy demands.
Iran has been slapped with two sets of UN Security Council sanctions and it is likely to face a third for its refusal to suspend sensitive enrichment work, the process which makes nuclear fuel and the fissile core of an atom bomb.
Solana and Larijani last met on May 31 in Madrid, without breakthrough.
The EU diplomat is trying in "talks about talks" to persuade Iran to begin formal negotiations on its nuclear programme, which would see Tehran suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for political and economic incentives.
Solana spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said he would leave Brussels around midday on Saturday even if an EU summit, starting Thursday, he is attending had not wound up.
Solana was reluctant to discuss his talks with Larijani, saying he preferred to wait until after the two men met.
Gallach declared herself, "neither optimistic, nor pessimistic" ahead of the talks.
1. UN Resolution on Iran Only if IAEA Says No Other Option - FM
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A UN Security Council resolution on Iran may be approved only after the international nuclear watchdog formally condemns Iran's nuclear record, Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday.
"All [previous] UN Security Council resolutions have been adopted once the IAEA confirmed that outstanding issues with Iran were impossible to resolve [any other way]," Sergei Lavrov told a Tehran news conference.
In any case such issues should be considered on the basis of IAEA's contacts with Iran, he said.
"We welcome Iran's readiness to clarify the outstanding issues it has with the IAEA," Lavrov said, stressing the key role the IAEA plays in the controversy around Iran's nuclear issue.
A Senate panel voted to support the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation accord Thursday, a major step toward approval of the unprecedented deal.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote was a victory for the administration of President George W. Bush. It comes two days after the House of Representatives' International Relations Committee approved a similar measure.
The votes make it likely that both chambers of Congress will approve the agreement.
Senate Committee approval came on a 16-2 vote. The debate preceding the vote lasted almost 90 minutes.
Senator after senator highlighted the proposal as a historic turning point in U.S Indian relationship that has often been unfriendly.
The lone negative votes were cast by Sens. Russ Feingold and Barbara Boxer.
The committee rejected by 13-5 an amendment from Feingold to require Bush to provide assurances that India was not taking advantage of the agreement by diverting nuclear fuel to its atomic weapons program.
Sen. George Allen said the amendment was a potential "deal breaker," warning that India could walk away from the agreement if it were approved.
Sen. Richard Lugar, the committee's Republican chairman, said that the accord is "the most important strategic diplomatic initiative undertaken by President Bush."
On Tuesday, the House committee voted 37-5 in support of Bush's initiative. The deal must be considered by the full House, which supporters say could happen next month.
Any version of legislation on the accord coming out of the Senate would have to be reconciled later with the House bill.
Critics say the plan could boost India's nuclear arsenal. Supporters say it would provide much-needed energy to a crucial ally that has always managed its nuclear technologies responsibly.
Under the deal, India would allow international inspections and safeguards at 14 nuclear reactors it has designated as civilian; India's eight military facilities would remain off-limits. In return, the United States would agree to ship nuclear technology and fuel to India.
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