`Two Koreas likely to meet to discuss N-issue`

North Korea walked away from the six-way nuclear talks more than two years ago.

Seoul: The nuclear envoys of South and North Korea are expected to meet on the sidelines of an Asian forum in Bali on Friday in the first high level contact since tensions spiked on the Korean peninsula last year, a news report said.

Wi Sung-lac, South Korea`s nuclear envoy, and Ri Yong-ho, North Korea`s vice foreign minister who handles its nuclear diplomacy, will meet for unofficial talks on the sidelines of the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting, Yonhap news agency said.

"The South and the North are holding working-level coordination," Yonhap quoted a government official as saying in Bali. "If the meeting (by the envoys) is set, it will be formally announced."

The Foreign Ministry in Seoul could not confirm the report.

North Korea walked away from the six-way nuclear talks more than two years ago but last year called for its resumption. South Korea and the United States want discussions between the rival Koreas as a preconditions to the resumption of the full negotiations.

A US official in Bali who did want to be quoted said it would be the "most consequential" meeting between the two sides in some time.

"It will take some time to understand and fully digest what has gone on between the north and south."

Tensions rose to the highest level in years when a South Korean Navy ship was sunk last year in a torpedo attack killing 46 sailors. South Korea blamed the North but Pyongyang denied any role. The North shelled a South Korean island in November.

Bureau Report