North Korea bans Bolton from talks

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Pyongyang agreed to the six-way talks despite saying for months it would only consent to bilateral talks with the United States. The North says it will work on the sidelines of the negotiations to push for one-on-one talks with Washington, which has insisted on multilateral talks because it says the North’s nuclear program is a regional concern.

No date has been set for the talks, which are expected to be held in China, and no decision has been made on the level of the officials who will attend.

A Japanese newspaper reported yesterday that Washington and Tokyo have begun talks on forming an inspection team to ensure that North Korea eliminates its nuclear program.

Mr. Bolton discussed details of the plan with senior Japanese officials Friday, after the North had agreed to the multilateral discussions, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

The inspectors would likely come from the five countries expected to participate in the talks with North Korea, the newspaper said. The report could not be immediately confirmed, and there was no word on whether Pyongyang would allow the inspections.

The United States and North Korea last held official talks in April in Beijing. They’ve since had unofficial discussions in New York via North Korean diplomats at the United Nations.

The nuclear standoff began in October, when U.S. officials said North Korea acknowledged having a uranium-based nuclear weapons program.

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