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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S., N. Korea officials meet in New York over nuclear issues

RIA Novosti


WASHINGTON, October 24 (RIA Novosti) - Senior U.S. and North Korean negotiators held a meeting on Saturday in New York to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the resumption of stalled nuclear talks, a U.S. diplomat said.

The U.S. Department of State has granted Ri Gun, who is North Korea's deputy envoy at the six-party talks on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, and his delegation a permission to attend two international conferences in the United States.

"Ambassador Sung Kim took the opportunity to meet with him [Ri Gun] in New York on October 24 to convey our position on denuclearization and the six-party talks," State Department spokesman Noel Clay said in a statement.

Ri Gun has been invited to participate in the Northeast Asia Cooperative Dialogue at the University of California in San Diego and to attend a political seminar in New York.

Some analysts in the U.S. expressed hope that the meeting between the U.S. and N. Korean officials could pave way toward closer bilateral engagement the resumption of stalled six-party 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.

Pyongyang has recently hinted that the North was willing to return to six-party talks, but insisted it first negotiate directly with the United States to repair "hostile relations."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed on Wednesday that North Korea's leaders should "be under no illusion that the United States will ever have normal, sanctions-free relations with a nuclear-armed North Korea."

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