DATE=3/16/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=U-S / NORTH KOREA (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-260250 BYLINE=DAVID SWAN DATELINE=CAPITOL HILL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The U-S State Department is denying suggestions of a breakdown in talks with North Korea - - though the two nations have yet to agree on terms for a historic North Korean visit to Washington. V-O- A's David Swan has details. TEXT: The administration had indicated that a high- level North Korean official would come here in about a month for the first such visit since the Korean war. It is not clear if that schedule still holds, after the two sides ended their latest round of meetings in New York without setting a date for the trip. But in testimony to Congress (Thursday), State Department Counselor Wendy Sherman said there was no rebuff and the parties are taking small steps forward. /// Sherman Act /// I don't see it as the talks having broken down or having failed. I see it as part of a very tough and continuing negotiating process that we expected to take time. /// End Act /// The United States hopes the visit will help ease a tense relationship, marked by concern about North Korea's missile, chemical and nuclear programs. Opposition Republicans often charge the Clinton administration has allowed Pyongyang to gain the upper hand. At Thursday's hearing, there were questions about whether American food aid is going to North Korea's army instead of starving civilians. Ms. Sherman acknowledged the program can be abused, but said it is still worthwhile. /// Sherman Act /// In fact, food is reaching the most vulnerable populations and those who have been there frequently have seen, just with their own eyes, a difference in terms of the health and welfare of children, women and the elderly. /// End Act /// The North Koreans have agreed to more talks on the visit, and to renew discussions on missiles and nuclear issues. (Signed) Neb/ds/JP 16-Mar-2000 13:04 PM EDT (16-Mar-2000 1804 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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