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NK: Peace pact will end nuke woes

story.yongbyon96.fulerodsap.jpg
File photo from 1996 of spent fuel rods at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility.

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(CNN) -- North Korea on Friday linked a peace agreement to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War to defusing the nuclear standoff between Pyongyang and the international community.

The statement comes just days before six-party talks are to resume in Beijing aimed at getting North Korea to end its nuclear programs. The meetings are scheduled to begin Tuesday. (Full story)

Pyongyang pulled out of its nuclear agreements in 2002, restarted a nuclear reactor and kicked out U.N. inspectors. A round of six-party talks last year achieved no substantial progress.

Pyongyang agreed to further talks last September, but then dropped out, citing "hostile" U.S. policy.

The North said earlier this month it would end its boycott of the talks. (Full story)

"The building of a peace mechanism is a process which the DPRK (Democratic Republic of North Korea) and the U.S. should go through without fail in order to attain the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula," a statement from the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

"To replace the fragile cease-fire mechanism by a lasting peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula with a view to doing away with the last leftover of the Cold War era is essential, not only for the peace and reunification of Korea but for the peace and security in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world."

The North's delegation to the talks, led by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, departed Friday for Beijing, the KCNA reported. Other nations participating are the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.

In February, Pyongyang declared it had nuclear weapons and said it would continue boycotting the talks unless Washington agreed to one-on-one negotiations.

The Bush administration argues that Pyongyang's promises to Washington cannot be trusted, and that the whole region should be involved.

The armistice -- as opposed to a peace treaty -- was signed on July 27, 1953.

Military commanders from China and North Korea signed it on one side, with the U.S.-led U.N. Command signing on behalf of the international community. South Korea was not a signatory.

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