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    U.S. pressure on North Korea stalls nuclear settlement - expert

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    MOSCOW, July 12 (RIA Novosti) - Excessive pressure from the United States on North Korea "does not add to stability" in the settlement of the Pyongyang nuclear program, a Russian expert said Tuesday.

    Commenting on North Korea's decision to resume six-party negotiations on its nuclear program, Colonel-General (retired) Leonid Ivashov, the vice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Studies, said, "such great powers as Russia, China and the USA should only act as the guarantors of non-interference."

    "The current situation in the region concerns Japan and South Korea most of all," he said. "These countries should agree on a security system and a system of guarantees with regard to each other, while China, Russia and the USA take a passive but constructive role in this process."

    According to Ivashov, there is unlikely to be a decisive agreement on the nuclear problem during the fourth round of the six-party talks in Beijing, but some interim positive results could be achieved.

    "I believe that if the USA eases its aggressive pressure on Pyongyang during the talks, some kind of interim positive result can be achieved," Ivashov said.

    According to him, a positive result could be seen in improved relations between the participants in the talks.

    "In particular, I mean North Korea, South Korea and Japan and the beginning of the dialogue within this triangle," he added.

    He said the positive results could be also reflected in the development of cooperation between the three countries in the humanitarian, economic and political spheres, as well as in the further development of trust in security.

    Ivashov said that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's statement that the six-sided talks would lead to nothing if North Korea did not give up its nuclear program was an attempt to "speak the language of ultimatums."

    "We cannot use this language," Ivashov added. "North Korea has nuclear weapons and will not agree to unilateral nuclear disarmament."

    North Korea agreed to resume the six-party talks on July 9. According to information from Seoul, the negotiations will probably start July 27. All the participating countries welcomed the decision to resume the talks, which started in August 2003. However, Japan said it intended to raise the issue concerning the kidnapping of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents in 1979-1980s during the talks. Japan already tried to raise this issue at the negotiations in Beijing, but Pyongyang stated that the issue had nothing to do with the nuclear problem and Tokyo was obstructing the settlement of the key issue.

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