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US welcomes inter-Korean talks

The United States renews concerns about North Korea`s nuclear program.



Washington: The United States on Wednesday welcomed talks between the two Koreas as a key step to resuming dialogue with the North, but renewed concerns about the communist state`s nuclear program.

Colonels from the neighbours plan to meet next Tuesday to lay the groundwork for higher-level military talks, which follow a year of mounting tension including November`s deadly bombardment of a South Korean island.

"We welcome a resumption of dialogue. We are in close consultations with our South Korean allies," Kurt Campbell, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asia, told reporters in Washington.

"We recognise and believe that the essential first step in any process of re-engagement with North Korea requires a true and significant North-South dialogue," Campbell said.

But Campbell renewed concerns about North Korea`s nuclear program, saying that any such steps were "in violation of its commitments and obligations" during six-nation talks in 2005.

"We are working closely with our allies and friends in terms of the appropriate venue to press our case in this regard," Campbell said.

North Korea, backed by China, has been seeking a resumption of six-nation talks, but the United States and South Korea have been sceptical of sitting down without greater movement from Pyongyang.

Bureau Report

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