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Top N.K. diplomat to visit New York for discussions with U.S. officials

A top North Korean diplomat handling nuclear negotiations with the outside world plans to make a rare trip to New York later this week for talks with U.S. officials, multiple diplomatic sources said Sunday.

First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan is expected to visit New York around July 28 on a trip that includes a meeting with Stephen Bosworth, the top U.S. envoy on Korean Peninsula affairs, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The trip will mark the resumption of U.S.-North Korean dialogue 19 months after Bosworth visited Pyongyang in December 2009.

“The South Korean and the U.S. government have had sufficient consultations on Vice Foreign Minister Kim’s trip to New York,” a source said. “The U.S. plans to make an announcement in the near future.”

Kim had served as Pyongyang’s chief nuclear negotiator for years before being promoted as first vice foreign minister last year. Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho has succeeded Kim as nuclear envoy, the North’s Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun confirmed last week.

His upcoming U.S. trip will take place about a week after Ri and South Korean nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac held rare bilateral talks on Friday on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Bali, Indonesia.

The meeting produced no breakthrough, with the sides only agreeing to work together for an early resumption of the six-party talks aimed at ending Pyongyang’s nuclear programs. Still, the rare talks boosted hopes that the six-party talks will resume again.

Sources said that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to head from Bali to Hong Kong where she could make an announcement on Washington’s position on North Korea-U.S. dialogue, sources said.

Kim’s trip to New York is expected to take the form of an invitation by private think tanks. The diplomat is not expected to visit Washington as the U.S. State Department is believed to be restricting his U.S. visit only to New York. 

(Yonhap News)
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