US-North Korea talks gear up in Geneva

Last Updated: Monday, October 24, 2011 - 00:06

Geneva: US diplomats arrived in Geneva on Sunday
for talks with North Korean officials about Pyongyang`s
nuclear weapons program, the second direct encounter between
the two sides in less than three months.

American officials say the "exploratory" meeting is aimed
at keeping North Korea engaged in discussions but remains a
step short of formal negotiations.

The US wants North Korea to adhere to a 2005 agreement it
later reneged on requiring verifiable denuclearization in
exchange for better relations with its Asian neighbours,
particularly South Korea and Japan.

The talks could also touch upon long-standing issues such
as food aid to the chronically impoverished North, reuniting
separated families on the Korean peninsula, and recovering the
remains of troops missing in action.

North Korea last week repeated calls for the immediate
resumption of six-nation disarmament-for-aid talks, something
Washington has said will only occur when Pyongyang freezes its
nuclear programs, allows access to UN inspectors, halts
further nuclear and missile tests, and promises not to attack
South Korea again.

Pyongyang conducted its second-ever nuclear test in 2009
and in late 2010 disclosed a uranium enrichment program that
could give it another means of generating fissile material for
nuclear bombs.

During 2010 it also was blamed for two military attacks
on South Korea that heightened tensions on the peninsula about
another war.

North Korea`s delegation headed by First Vice Foreign
Minister Kim Kye-gwan arrived in Geneva on Saturday after
flying to China and Russia. The US delegation is headed by the
US top envoy on Pyongyang, Stephen Bosworth, and Glyn Davies,
the US ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Today, reporters staked out a downtown hotel overlooking
Lake Geneva where delegations from both countries still
formally at war are staying, either by plan or coincidence.

Preliminary discussions were scheduled to take place
today ahead of the formal talks at North Korea`s UN mission in
Geneva tomorrow and the United States` UN mission on Tuesday.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, October 24, 2011 - 00:06

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