A final push by President Bush to complete an agreement to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program collapsed Thursday, leaving the confrontation with one of the world’s most isolated and intractable nations to the administration of President-elect Barack Obama.
Four days of negotiations in Beijing ended in an impasse after North Korea refused to agree to a system of verifying that it had ended all nuclear activity, which it had pledged to do. Among other things, the North Koreans have objected to allowing soil and air samples to be taken near nuclear facilities and sent overseas for testing.
North Korea could still return to the bargaining table, as it has after previous rifts. Officials, however, indicated that any talks were unlikely to resume before Mr. Bush stepped down in less than six weeks, depriving him of the chance for the breakthrough that the White House had hoped to reach with the North Koreans in the sunset of his presidency.
“What’s unfortunate is that the North Koreans had an opportunity here,” the White House press secretary, Dana M. Perino, said Thursday. “There was an open door, and all they had to do was walk through it.”
The collapse of talks is reminiscent of a….
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