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Japan says date for North Korea talks to be announced Monday

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Japan's foreign minister said Sunday he expected a date for the resumption of six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program to be announced Monday.
TOKYO, January 28 (RIA Novosti) - Japan's foreign minister said Sunday he expected a date for the resumption of six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program to be announced Monday.

"North Korea has been saying [they want to resume talks] on February 8. If the United States accepts it, it will be the eighth. Tomorrow, it will be announced conclusively," Kyodo News agency quoted Foreign Minister Taro Aso as saying.

The negotiations, which involve the two Koreas, Russia, China, Japan and the United States, were launched in 2003 to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions.

In September 2005, North Korea signed a "joint statement" committing itself to abandoning its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

But the reclusive communist state boycotted the process two months later following Washington's demand that its accounts at a Macau-based bank be frozen for alleged money laundering and counterfeiting of U.S. dollars. Since then, North Korea has conducted its first nuclear test and tested ballistic missiles.

The talks resumed in December 2006, following a 13-month standoff, but ended without result. At a symbolic ceremony, the six participating delegations made a joint statement reiterating their commitment to further negotiations in the same format.

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