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‘N.K., U.S. to hold more nuclear talks this month’

North Korea and the United States will hold a second bilateral meeting to discuss the stalled six-nation talks on the North’s nuclear weapons programs, a senior Seoul diplomat said Monday.

The exact date for the meeting has not been set, but the two sides will meet sometime after this week’s planned summit in Washington between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama, the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity.

North Korean and U.S. officials met in New York in late July to gauge the possibility of resuming the six-party talks, which also involve South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. Last month, chief nuclear envoys from the two Koreas met for the second time to discuss terms for resuming the multilateral forum, but no tangible progress was reported.

“The second round of talks between the U.S. and North Korea will be held by the end of this month, at the latest,” the diplomat said, adding the planned meeting might take place “in a third country.”

Last week in Seoul, Kurt Campbell, assistant U.S. secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters that Lee and Obama will discuss an “appropriate way forward” with their current approach on dealing with North Korea.

South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy Lim Sung-nam returned home on Monday from a three-day trip to Washington, where he coordinated the allies’ joint stance on the six-party talks.

The six-party talks, aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programs in exchange for economic and political aid, have been dormant since Pyongyang left them in April 2009. The North then conducted its second nuclear test a month later.

Seoul and Washington have insisted that Pyongyang halt all nuclear activities, including its uranium enrichment program, and allow U.N. inspectors to monitor the suspension as preconditions to reopening the six-party talks. North Korea, however, is pushing to resume the forum without any conditions attached. 

(Yonhap News)