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U.S. cautious about N. Korea's growing ties with western media

With North Korea seen as opening its door wider to western media, the United States government maintained a cautious view Wednesday on the reclusive communist nation's latest gesture.

The London-based news agency Reuters announced earlier this week that it was planning a video news service in North Korea in partnership with its propaganda news agency, KCNA.

The move comes a couple of weeks after the U.S. news agency Associated Press said it would open a bureau in Pyongyang.

"We would just hope that the government allows them for -- greater freedom of the press, greater access," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said in a regular press briefing. "More information is, in our view, a good thing. And we hope that's the case."

When asked whether the U.S. regards it as a good sign, Toner said tersely, "We'll see."

AP has had a television crew in the capital of North Korea, where media coverage is strictly controlled by the regime, since 2006. AP's television news arm APTN, however, usually relays video footage provided by the North's state media.

Japan's Kyodo News Service also has a bureau in Pyongyang, but its news coverage is very limited.

In what is considered as another fruit of Pyongyang's attempt to reach out to the western world, meanwhile, the French government plans to launch a cultural liaison office in Pyongyang around September, according to a local news report. (Yonhap News)