Is North Korea set to come off US terror-sponsor list?
Report says it could happen today, but Japan opposes the plan.
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Taro Aso, the Japanese prime minister, has informed the Bush administration that he cannot accept the North Korean offer, which Washington had urged him to support, two sources familiar with the decision told the Financial Times. ...
Chris Hill, the US negotiator, returned from Pyongyang last week with a North Korean counter-proposal. After several days of debate, the administration decided to accept the offer if the other six-party members – Japan, China, South Korea and Russia – agreed. But Japan has now rejected the proposal.
An informed Japanese source said the deal was rejected because it "seems bad". The Japanese decision has prompted President George W. Bush to instruct his negotiating team to get more concessions from North Korea.
The conflicting reports come after an eventful day for North Korea. The New York Times reported Thursday that North Korea announced that it is banning United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from access to any part of the Yongbyon nuclear plant.
North Korea's decision to bar the international inspectors is the latest move by the country aimed at getting United States negotiators to ease off demands for strict measures to verify whether the North is adhering to that agreement. ...
Mr. Hill and [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice have both kept a tight lid on the talks, but one administration official with knowledge of the negotiations said that they remained centered on how much freedom North Korea was willing to give international weapons inspectors to examine and take samples from suspected nuclear sites. In particular, the North is skittish about allowing inspectors to examine as-yet-undeclared sites, for fear that it would establish a precedent for inspectors to go wherever they want in the country.