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N.Korea six-party talks to resume in early September - envoy

MOSCOW, August 2 (RIA Novosti) - A regular meeting of delegations from the six countries involved in talks on the North Korean nuclear problem have been preliminarily set for early September, Russia's envoy to the negotiations said Thursday.

Diplomats from Russia, the U.S., China, South Korea and Japan have been holding talks with North Korea since August 2003 aimed at persuading the reclusive state to abandon its nuclear program.

"In around early September, we will return to a plenary session of the delegations, and will try to compile a roadmap for decommissioning North Korea's nuclear facilities," Vladimir Rakhmanin told Moscow-based Ekho Moskvy radio.

The diplomat said the six nations' working groups on energy, denuclearization, security in northeast Asia, and the two bilateral working groups - U.S.-North Korea and Japan-North Korea - would conduct work in August.

In late July the latest group of inspectors from UN's nuclear watchdog arrived in North Korea to monitor the second phase of Pyongyang's obligations to scrap its controversial nuclear program.

The first group of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, which arrived in Pyongyang in mid-July, confirmed that North Korea had closed all facilities at Yongbyon that were used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

The move finalized the first phase of the nuclear disarmament deal agreed in Beijing on February 13, when Pyongyang was promised economic and diplomatic incentives in exchange for disabling its nuclear facilities. Under the first phase, Pyongyang received 50,000 metric tons of fuel oil from South Korea.

Under second phase, North Korea must provide information on all its nuclear programs, including its uranium enrichment, and must shut down all remaining nuclear facilities.

North Korea now expects Washington to strike it off the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, and to drop its "hostile" policies toward Pyongyang, and wants Japan to improve ties with the regime, which Tokyo accuses of kidnapping its nationals in the 1970s-1980s.

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