April 24, 2013 09:45
Seoul and Washington have agreed to hold regular talks about the kind of nuclear activities Korea will be permitted, rather than extending a restrictive nuclear energy pact that expires in March next year.
The aim is to "narrow differences" about contentious points like the current ban on Korea reprocessing its own spent nuclear fuel and enriching uranium, a diplomatic source in Seoul said.
Seoul says it needs to reprocess spent nuclear fuel because storage is nearly full up, but the U.S. is adamantly opposed. Talks about a revision of the 1974 pact have so far come to nothing. "They agreed to hold talks on a regular basis to intensify consultation," the diplomatic source said.
Seoul feels at least two rounds of talks a year are needed over the next two years to produce tangible results. Since negotiations started in October 2010, Seoul and Washington met every two to five months until the fifth round in February 2012. But they then came to a halt during presidential election campaigns in both countries in 2012. The sixth round was held last week.
"Washington is also keen because Park has pushed for a revision of the treaty whenever she met an American government official," the diplomat added. "It's possible that the two leaders will discuss the revision during her visit to Washington in May."
The government is to launch a task force on the issue this week.
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