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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. issues visas to North Korean officials

RIA Novosti


WASHINGTON, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. Department of State has granted a senior North Korean government official and his delegation a permission to attend two international conferences in the United States.

"The State Department has decided to authorize the issuance of visas for Ambassador Ri Gun and his delegation to attend conferences in the United States in late October," spokesman Ian Kelly said in a statement.

Ri Gun, who is North Korea's deputy envoy at the six-party talks on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, has been invited to attend a meeting at the University of California in San Diego and a seminar in New York.

Some analysts in the U.S. believe that the N. Korean nuclear negotiator could meet with U.S. officials to discuss the resumption of talks, which involve the two Koreas, China, the U.S., Russia and Japan.

The reclusive communist regime abandoned the negotiations in April, in protest against the United Nations' condemnation of its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

North Korea is banned from conducting nuclear or ballistic tests under UN Resolution 1718, adopted after North Korea's first nuclear test on October 9, 2006.

However, Pyongyang carried out a second nuclear test on May 25 this year followed by a series of short-range missile launches, and has threatened to build up its nuclear arsenal to counter what it calls hostile U.S. policies.

The move led to the UN imposing new sanctions on North Korea banning the import and export of nuclear material and all weapons except small arms.

North Korea recently invited Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special envoy to Pyongyang, to visit. Washington has yet to officially accept the invitation, but has said bilateral contacts would be an important step towards resuming the six-nation talks.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that Washington has no plans to either ease or toughen sanctions against North Korea.

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