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Seoul nuclear envoy heads to Moscow for N. Korea talks

South Korea’s top nuclear envoy left for Russia Wednesday to coordinate their joint strategy on how to revive the stalled six-party talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.

The three-day visit by Lim Sung-nam to Moscow came a day after North Korea and the United States concluded two days of “very positive” talks in Geneva, but no agreement to restart the six-nation negotiations, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, was reached.

The Geneva talks followed up on a meeting between the two sides in New York in late July and two rounds of inter-Korean talks aimed at persuading the North to take concrete steps toward denuclearization before the multilateral forum can resume.

Speaking to Yonhap News Agency before departing for Russia, Lim said, “As two rounds of inter-Korean and North Korea-U.S. meetings concluded, we will assess the current situation with the Russian side and discuss the direction of future moves.”

Lim will meet with his Russian counterpart, Alexei Borodavkin, and other senior officials during the visit.

South Korea and the U.S. have laid out a series of “pre-steps” before resuming the multilateral forum. The broader talks have been at a standstill since April 2009 when the North quit the negotiating table, then conducted its second nuclear test a month later.

Among other preconditions, Seoul and Washington have insisted that Pyongyang suspend its uranium enrichment program and allow international inspectors to verify the suspension ahead of the aid-for-disarmament talks.

While both U.S. and North Korea were relatively upbeat after the Geneva talks, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington that, “while there’s been some narrowing of differences, we haven’t had any breakthroughs here and significant issues do remain.” (Yonhap News)
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