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Terrorism & Security

North Korean official to visit US for preliminary talks

After successful talks between North and South Korea last week, the US has invited a North Korean official to New York to gauge if broader six-party negotiations should resume.

By Staff writer / July 25, 2011

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, top left, walks by his North Korean counterpart Pak Ui Chun, bottom center, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, center, prior to the start of ARF Retreat Session in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Saturday, July 23.

Dita Alangkara/AP

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The North Korean vice foreign minister will visit the United States this week to discuss resuming multilateral talks, which were cut off in 2008 because of tensions between North and South Korea.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited the Korean official to New York after a meeting between the two countries' top nuclear envoys on the sidelines of last week's Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference, the Associated Press reports. North Korea's willingness to resume negotiations is likely linked to a need for food aid and a diplomatic victory before the centennial celebration of the birth of the country's founder, Kim Il-sung.

Relations between the two Koreas reached their lowest point in two decades last year after two attacks by the North killed 50 South Koreans.

The North has reneged on several promises related to disarmament in the past, and Washington and Seoul say that this time around Pyongyang must take concrete steps to prove its sincerity, Reuters reports. The invitation does not mean that the US and South Korea are backing down on their central demand: that North Korea show it is serious about halting its nuclear weapon development, CNN reports.

"This will be an exploratory meeting to determine if North Korea is prepared to affirm its obligations under international and Six Party Talk commitments, as well as take concrete and irreversible steps toward denuclearization," Clinton said in a statement.

"As we have stated repeatedly, we are open to talks with North Korea, but we do not intend to reward the North just for returning to the table. We will not give them anything new for actions they have already agreed to take. And we have no appetite for pursuing protracted negotiations that will only lead us right back to where we have already been."

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