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N. Korea proposed summit talks with U.S., professor claims

North Korea proposed holding a summit with the United States in an apparent bid to seek a breakthrough for reopening the stalled aid-for-denuclearization talks, a South Korean professor claimed Friday.

The proposal was made in late July when North Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan held a rare two-day meeting in New York with Stephen Bosworth, Washington's special envoy on Pyongyang, said Moon Chung-in, professor of political science at Seoul-based Yonsei University, citing a source he didn't identify.

"What was interesting in the New York meeting is the fact that North Korea offered to hold the top-level meeting, in other words, summit talks, to simplify the negotiations and save time," Moon said in his commentary posted on the Web site of a local publisher.

A senior official at Seoul's foreign ministry said he could not confirm the remarks by Moon, but noted that the reported offer is unlikely to be accepted, given the "political reality" in Washington.

The U.S. and North Korea have never had diplomatic relations because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, thus leaving the Korean Peninsula technically at war.

The multinational negotiations aimed at ending the North's nuclear programs in return for economic and other rewards have been stalled since late 2008 after the North stormed out.

The New York meeting came days after the chief nuclear envoys of South Korea and North Korea met in Indonesia on the sidelines of an Asian security conference and agreed to make joint efforts to reopen the six-party talks.

In the article, Moon revealed some details of the New York meeting.

"According to the source, Kim Kye-gwan expressed the North's willingness to impose a moratorium on additional nuclear tests and missile test-launches if the U.S. eases sanctions and resumes food aid to the North," Moon said.

However, North Korea repeated its stance that its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful energy use, Moon said.

The North's uranium enrichment program is among the key obstacles to the resumption of the six-party talks.

Pyongyang stunned the world last November by revealing a modern uranium enrichment facility that could provide the communist regime with new material to make atomic weapons, in addition to its known plutonium-based weapons program. (Yonhap News)