France sends special envoy to North Korea

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

France has dispatched a special envoy to North Korea for talks that are expected to focus on establishing diplomatic ties with Pyongyang and possibly on the country's nuclear program.

French special envoy Jack Lang arrived in North Korea for a five-day visit that could mark a turnaround in relations with the country. France is the only major European country not to have formal ties with Pyongyang, and it never recognised the country after it split from Korea following the Korean War. Some international observers consider dispatching a high-level envoy like Lang, a former French minister, an unusual move.

France is not a member of the six-party talks aimed to end North Korea's nuclear-weapons program, but it is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Lang told news agencies the French government could play a role in reviving the stalled six-party talks. He noted that he would "discuss all the problems, [and] the nuclear question, naturally."