TITLE=U-S/NORTH KOREA VISIT (L)
DATELINE= STATE DEPARTMENT
INTRO: The highest ranking North Korean official ever to visit the United States has had a second day of talks in Washington including a meeting at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary William Cohen. Correspondent Nick Simeone has more.
TEXT: U-S officials say Wednesday's meetings with Vice Chairman Cho Myong-Nok touched on the substantive issues dividing two countries that have technically been in a state of war since the Korean Conflict a half century ago.
The North Korean official second in command to leader Kim Jong Il has not spoken to reporters. The only readout on this second day of his talks came from State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher.
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They are substantive, they're detailed, they cover both general developments of the relationship, developments in the region. But they also cover some of the specific issues they need to discuss.
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Including North Korea's alleged support for terrorism and Washington's concerns about Pyongyang's export and development of ballistic missiles. Relations have been improving since the United States eased some sanctions against the North last year in exchange for a suspension of missile tests. But both of these issues as well as the recovery of remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean Conflict -- need to be resolved before relations could ever be fully normalized.
It's always been difficult for diplomats to read the intentions of one of the world's most reclusive governments. But Vice Chairman Cho seems to be expressing an interest in moving in that direction.
He told a dinner in his honor at the State Department the dramatic changes taking place on the Korean peninsula could foreshadow similar changes in relations between Pyongyang and Washington. But Washington, he says must first guarantee North Korea's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Just a year ago, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declared the Korean peninsula to be perhaps the most dangerous place in the world. Now, U-S officials are suggesting she could make a reciprocal visit to Pyongyang. (SIGNED)