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N. Korea, U.S. may delay bilateral talks following Kim's death

SEOUL, Dec. 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea and the United States are highly likely to delay bilateral nuclear talks set for this week in Beijing, following the report of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death, a senior Seoul official said Monday.

"In the wake of the North Korean leader Kim's death, it would be difficult for the two sides to hold the talks in Beijing this week," the official at Seoul's foreign ministry said on the condition of anonymity.

Pyongyang and Washington are set to hold the third round of meetings on Thursday in Beijing to discuss ways to resume the long-stalled six-nation talks on the North's nuclear weapons program.

North Korea's state media announced at noon on Monday that the 69-year-old Kim died on Saturday.

South Korea's foreign ministry has immediately put all of its overseas missions on an "emergency response" status since Kim's death, officials said.

First Vice Foreign Minister Park Suk-hwan was holding an emergency meeting to discuss Seoul's diplomatic responses following Kim's death, they said.

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