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N.Korea seems to meet U.S. criteria on terror listing

WASHINGTON - North Korea appears to have met the legal criteria to be taken off the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list although its removal depends on progress on denuclearization agreements, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

"It appears that North Korea has complied with those criteria," Dell Dailey, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, told a group of reporters.

As part of a broader multilateral agreement under which North Korea would abandon its nuclear weapons and programs, the United States has held out the possibility of removing Pyongyang from the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list which imposes sanctions on the impoverished, communist state.

However, this is contingent on North Korea meeting U.S. legal criteria and keeping its denuclearization commitments, including providing a complete declaration of its nuclear programs. North Korea missed a Dec. 31 deadline to do this and Washington is trying to get it to follow through.

Dailey said resolving the matter of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea during the 1970s and 1980s did not appear to be an obstacle to taking Pyongyang off the terrorism blacklist. Japan has sought a full accounting of their fate.

"We think that even with that on the table that they still comply with the ... delisting criteria," he said.

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