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N. Korea may declare itself ‘nuclear nation’

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U.S. rules out formal bilateral meeting with Pyongyang

BEIJING, Aug. 28 — North Korea startled a six-nation conference on East Asian security by announcing its intentions to formally declare its possession of nuclear weapons and to carry out a nuclear test, an administration official said Thursday.

NORTH KOREAN Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Yong Il also told the gathering in Beijing that his country had the means to deliver nuclear weapons, an apparent reference to the North’s highly developed missile program.

The comments cast a pall over Thursday’s plenary session, which included representatives of the United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia, in addition to North Korea.

James Kelly, the chief U.S. delegate, demanded that North Korea engage in the verifiable and permanent dismantling of its nuclear weapons programs, in return for which the United States would provide security guarantees and economic benefits.

The administration official, who asked not to be identified, told The Associated Press that when Russia and Japan tried to point out some positive elements of the U.S. presentation, the North Korean delegate attacked them by name and said they were lying at the instruction of the United States.

According to the administration official, China’s delegate appeared visibly angry over Kim’s statement but responded in a moderate tone.

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