US, North Korea to Meet on Disarmament Talks

Posted October 19th, 2011 at 9:20 pm (UTC-5)
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(combines and updates CNs #1512013 and #1511882))

The United States says it is appointing a new top envoy for North Korea, ahead of a rare meeting with the country's nuclear negotiators next week.

The State Department says the meeting will take place Monday and Tuesday in Geneva. It could determine if conditions are ready for a resumption of international talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament.

Outgoing U.S. envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth will lead the U.S. team, which will include diplomat Glynn Davies who will replace him. The North Korean team will be headed by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Guan.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Mark Toner, described the talks as exploratory, stressing that the United States is looking for a “seriousness of purpose” on the part of North Korea.

North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong Il said that six-party talks should resume swiftly and without preconditions. His gave his remarks in an interview to Russia's state-run news agency ITAR-Tass, published Wednesday.

Russia, China and Japan also are parties to six-nation disarmament talks.

North Korea abandoned the aid-for-disarmament talks in 2009. The United States and South Korea say they want evidence that Pyongyang is serious about returning to the negotiating table.

Bosworth is stepping down after next week's talks to resume his position as dean of Boston's Tufts University's law school. Davies will work as envoy on a full-time basis.

The State Department also said Wednesday that diplomat Clifford Hart is replacing Sung Kim as U.S. envoy to the six-party talks. Kim has been confirmed as the new U.S. ambassador to South Korea.