U.S., North Korean Diplomats Finish Talks

Posted July 29th, 2011 at 2:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Diplomats from the United States and North Korea have completed their first senior-level direct talks in 18 months.

Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, the head of the North Korean delegation, called the talks in New York constructive and business-like, and indicated the two sides would maintain contact.

He spoke briefly as the North Korean delegation left the U.S. mission to the United Nations early Friday afternoon.

The United States has described the talks as a way to see if North Korea is ready to meet its commitment to give up its nuclear weapons program. Special envoy Stephen Bosworth led the U.S. team.

In Seoul, South Korea's chief nuclear envoy, Wi Sung-lac, said he is not very optimistic that the meeting will yield quick results.

The United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea have been trying to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons. The North pulled out of six-nation talks on its nuclear program in 2008 and tested a second nuclear weapon months later.

The United States invited the North Koreans to New York after North and South Korean diplomats met earlier in the month in talks that appeared to cool tensions between the two governments.

Relations on the Korean peninsula have been tense for more than a year. North Korea is blamed for a torpedo attack that sank a South Korean navy ship, and a North Korean artillery attack killed 4 South Koreans. Seoul has demanded an apology, but Pyongyang denies responsibility for the ship sinking and says the South's army provoked the artillery attack.