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U.S. diplomat: North Korea to be subject of talks 'in the near future'

By the CNN Wire Staff
January 7, 2012 -- Updated 0413 GMT (1213 HKT)
This TV grab taken from North Korean TV December 28 shows a car in Pyongyang with a portrait of the late leader Kim Jong Il.
This TV grab taken from North Korean TV December 28 shows a car in Pyongyang with a portrait of the late leader Kim Jong Il.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Talks to be held 'in the near future,' State Department official says
  • South Korea, Japan and the United States are to participate

Tokyo (CNN) -- Representatives of South Korea, Japan and the United States will meet "in the near future" to discuss North Korea, a U.S. State Department official told reporters Friday in Tokyo at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"I think we've agreed that we'll be holding a meeting in the near future," said Kurt M. Campbell, assistant secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, according to a transcript of his remarks on the State Department website. "I think the exact date, we are still coordinating among our partners."

Campbell is on a trip through Asia that comes after the death last month of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and his replacement at the country's helm by his son Kim Jong Un.

Relations on the Korean peninsula have been tense since Kim's death fueled doubts about the secretive regime's stability and future direction.

Kim Jong Il was 'normal guy' with doctor
North Korean hard line on South remains

On Thursday, South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan said his country is "open to dialogue" with the new North Korean leadership, despite harsh recent comments from Pyongyang.

Kim told reporters not to read too much into North Korea's recent statement that it would never negotiate with the "Lee Myung Bak group of traitors," a reference to the South Korean president.

Kim said he did not know how much influence Kim Jong Un had in his own country, underlining once again how little is known about the new North Korean leader.

The United States currently has about 28,500 military personnel stationed in South Korea, which North Korea claims is the main impediment to reunification of the Korean people. The United States fought on the side of the South during the 1950-53 war and keeps troops in country as a deterrent against the North.

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