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U.S.: N.Korea still on terrorism list

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. denies claims North Korea was taken off list of state terrorism sponsors
  • Official report from North's news agency said sanctions would now be lifted
  • Pyongyang has agreed to disable its nuclear programs by the end of this year
  • But a U.S. official insists that Korea must also address other "key areas"
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States has denied claims from Pyongyang that North Korea has been taken off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill met with North Korean officials in Geneva

The North's official news agency had carried a report quoting a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying the nation had been removed from the list and that sanctions would be lifted.

However, a senior State Department official involved in negotiations with North Korea said: "This is not imminent. The North Koreans have several things they need to do on key areas first."

The official was not authorized to discuss sensitive details of diplomatic discussions on the record, and spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity.

The public dispute with North Korea over the terrorism sponsor list follows Sunday's announcement of a step forward in talks aimed at ending the country's nuclear program.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator, said in Geneva that North Korean officials agreed they "will provide a full declaration of all of their nuclear programs and will disable their nuclear programs by the end of this year."

Hill said the agreement followed "very good and very substantive" talks between the two nations.

On Monday, Pyongyang said the two "discussed the issue of taking practical measures to neutralize the existing nuclear facilities in the DPRK (North Korea) within this year and agreed on them.

"In return for this the U.S. decided to take such political and economic measures for compensation as de-listing the DPRK as a terrorism sponsor and lifting all sanctions that have been applied according to the Trading with the Enemy Act.

"This has laid a groundwork for making progress at the plenary session of the six-party talks to be held in the future."

The senior State Department official told CNN that in February, as an part of the six-party talks involving North Korea, the United States agreed to beginning a process of taking North Korea off the list. But the official said that did not mean the United States was ready to take that step before North Korea took further actions.

Among the U.S. demands were that North Korea must improve relations with Japan and resolve the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea, the official said.

Any steps toward removing North Korea from the terrorism sponsors list would also be related to Pyongyang fulfilling "key aspects of denuclearization," the official said.

The five nations currently on the State Department's State Sponsors of Terrorism list are Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. North Korea was put on the list in January 1988.

The U.S. government says North Korean agents were behind the 1987 bombing of a South Korean airliner. The Korean Air Lines flight crashed into the Indian Ocean, killing all 115 people on board.

On a list of "significant terrorism incidents" on its Web site, the State Department also says that in 1983, "North Korean agents blew up a delegation from South Korea in Rangoon, Burma, killing 21 persons and injuring 48."

In its latest Country Reports on Terrorism, the department says North Korea "is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts" since the 1987 incident. But it says there have been outstanding issues involving abductees and the remains of some who have died.

North Korea, often referred to as the "hermit kingdom," is notoriously secretive and does not allow freedom of the press. It is very difficult to get information from the Pyongyang government, run by supreme leader Kim Jong Il. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About North KoreaChristopher HillTerrorism

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