U.S. talks 'back on' says N. Korea
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei -- North Korea has agreed to resume dialogue with the United States and a senior American envoy will travel to Pyongyang in the near future, the communist nation's foreign minister has said.
There has been no confirmation of the resumption of talks from American officials.
The Bush administration has been considering how to progress in relations with North Korea following a breakthrough informal meeting Wednesday between U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun.
The brief 15-minute encounter on the sidelines of a regional security meeting in Brunei was the highest-level contact between the two sides in almost two years.
Speaking to reporters Thursday Paek said he expected a postponed visit by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly would take place very soon.
"We agreed with the United States to reopen the dialogue and the specific date, maybe, the United States will inform us very soon. And he will come," Paek said.
U.S. officials have made no comment on the resumption of talks with the North following Wednesday's brief meeting, saying only that the decision will be made by President Bush after discussions with Secretary of State Powell.
Kelly had been scheduled to visit North Korea last month, but the trip was suspended following the June 29 naval clash between North and South Korean ships in which at least five South Korean sailors were killed.
Saying Kelly's visit was back on Paek told reporters the United States would "notify a day for the visit" in the near future.
Wednesday's meeting was the first high-level contact between U.S. and North Korean officials since President George W. Bush branded North Korea part of an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address in January.
According to U.S. officials, the meeting came about after Powell's staff let the North Korean delegation know that the secretary of state was in a lounge reserved for senior delegates beside the ASEAN meeting room.
Paek then entered the room shortly after and the two men sat down for a conversation over coffee.
Relations between the United States and North Korea peaked in October 2000 when Powell's predecessor Madeleine Albright traveled to Pyongyang and held talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
However, contact between the two sides was abruptly halted following the change of administration in Washington when Bush ordered a thorough review of relations with the secretive communist state.
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