US to host North Korean diplomat for nuclear talks

Sunday, July 24, 2011

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today that a North Korean diplomat, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, is to travel to the US to discuss the possibility of resuming international discussion of North Korea's nuclear program.

Clinton said that the visit will take place "later this week," while South Korean news agency Yonhap said that it will occur on Thursday. The announcement comes after diplomats from both North and South Korea held unexpected talks on Friday at a regional security conference in Indonesia.

According to Clinton, the planned talks will include officials from various branches of the US government, and will discuss the "next steps necessary to resume denuclearisation negotiations through the six-party talks," which include the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia. In addition to the nuclear talks, Yonhap said that US food aid to North Korea will also be discussed.

In a statement, Clinton said that she wants any talks to make meaningful progress. "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."

North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun said on Sunday that the two Koreas are at "the crossroads of detente and the vicious cycle of escalating tension" and that they must "make the best use of [the] opportunity of dialogue and make a bold decision to settle the fundamental issue."