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    Talks on North Korean nuclear program came close to an end

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    BEIJING, MOSCOW, August 4 (RIA Novosti, Alexei Yefimov) - The delegations of the fourth round of six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program came close to completing a joint statement, a member of the Russian delegation said Wednesday. The tenth day of talks in Beijing will focus on formulating a conclusive document to be signed as a joint statement, the diplomat said, adding that the statement is 90% ready, with differences remaining only on "the obligations of the parties."

    U.S. chief negotiator Christopher Hill said Wednesday the negotiations were close to an end.

    However, Hill held an unexpected, late-night meeting with the Chinese delegation, after which he said there had been good discussions regarding the statement. When returning to his hotel, Hill said the meeting resulted in neither good nor bad news.

    The delegations are reviewing a fourth draft of the statement proposed by China.

    Hill appreciated China's efforts, saying he was sure China would do its best to help the parties reach an agreement.

    The draft statement calls for an end to North Korea's nuclear program, while maintaining its right to peaceful nuclear energy. In return, North Korea would receive security guarantees, economic aid, and the normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States and Japan.

    A high-ranking Chinese analyst said the talks might end on Thursday, provided the parties agree on a joint statement, otherwise a break in the talks could be announced.

    The fourth round of six-nation talks began on July 26, ten days ago. The previous rounds lasted no more than four days.

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