US, North Korea to Meet for Talks on Resuming Nuclear Diplomacy

Posted July 27th, 2011 at 7:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States and North Korea will hold two days of talks in New York beginning Thursday to explore the steps necessary for bringing Pyongyang back to the six-party talks on nuclear disarmament.

North Korea's delegation is led by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan. It will meet with a U.S. team led by special envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth.

On his arrival in New York Tuesday, Kim expressed optimism about the talks, saying “now is the time for all countries to reconcile.”

The Obama administration has said the meeting is an exploratory step to determine if North Korea is serious about denuclearization. A State Department spokesman Wednesday said Pyongyang must fulfill commitments made in 2005 to scrap its nuclear program in return for aid and diplomatic benefits.

The United States and North Korea last held talks in December 2009 when Bosworth visited Pyongyang.

Last year, tensions on the Korean peninsula reached a boiling point with South Korea accusing the North of sinking one of its warships and Pyongyang launching an artillery attack on a South Korean island. The United States and other parties in the six-nation talks have agreed that there is no point in resuming the talks before the two Koreas re-establish dialogue.

North Korea on Wednesday repeated a call for a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War of the 1950s. Tuesday marked the 58th anniversary of the armistice agreement that ended the fighting, but the two Koreas are still technically at war.

In a statement carried by its official media, Pyongyang said a peace treaty may be the first step to settling the Korean issue, including denuclearization.