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N. Korea's nuclear issue can be discussed outside Seoul summit: FM
SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- This month's Nuclear Security Summit is not aimed at dealing with North Korea's nuclear weapons program, but the issue can be discussed bilaterally on the sidelines of the summit, Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said Monday.

   The nuclear summit, slated for March 26-27 in Seoul, will be attended by top leaders from about 50 countries, including the United States, China and Japan. It will be the second of its kind since the first one in the U.S. in 2010.

   "North Korea's nuclear issue is not on the agenda of the Seoul summit, but the issue can be discussed bilaterally outside the summit because all member countries of the six-party talks except North Korea will be attending the summit," Kim told a group of ethnic Korean journalists.

   "The Nuclear Security Summit pursues the minimum use of nuclear materials such as highly enriched uranium and plutonium. So, it can deliver a message to North Korea that it should give up such materials," Kim said.

   North Korea and the U.S. announced a deal late last month that raised hopes of a resumption of the long-stalled six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia. The multilateral talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear program have been stalled since late 2008.

   Under the deal, Pyongyang agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment program and nuclear and missile tests in return for massive U.S. food aid. North Korea also agreed to allow U.N. inspectors to monitor a suspension of the nuclear activities.

   South Korea welcomed the deal, but has cautioned that it would wait and see whether the North would faithfully implement it.

   Commenting on the nuclear deal between North Korea and the U.S., Kim reiterated the cautious tone, saying the Seoul government "takes particular note of the fact that North Korea has agreed to take pre-steps to create an appropriate environment for the resumption of the six-party talks."

   South Korea will "continue to make efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue in cooperation with the members of the six-party talks and the rest of the international community," Kim said.

   kdh@yna.co.kr
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