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NKorea invites US envoys for talks, report says

 Philip Goldberg, a senior U.S. diplomat in charge of coordinating the implementation of sanction against North Korea, left, shakes hands with Wi Sung...
 FILE - In this Aug. 22, 2009 file photo, U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth is pictured during a meeting with his South Korean count...
 South Korean Kang Ick-hyung,75, arrives to submit an application form to reunit with his family members who are living in North Korea, at the headqua...

South Korea Koreas Tension

Philip Goldberg, a senior U.S. diplomat in charge of coordinating the implementation of sanction against North Korea, left, shakes hands with Wi Sung...

South Korea Koreas Tension

FILE - In this Aug. 22, 2009 file photo, U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth is pictured during a meeting with his South Korean count...

South Korea Koreas Tension

South Korean Kang Ick-hyung,75, arrives to submit an application form to reunit with his family members who are living in North Korea, at the headqua...

North Korea has invited top U.S. envoys to visit the communist nation in what would be the countries' first nuclear talks since President Barack Obama was elected, a news report said Tuesday. But the U.S. said there are no plans for a visit.
North Korea recently offered the invitation to Stephen Bosworth, special envoy to North Korea, and chief nuclear negotiator Sung Kim, and the U.S. government is strongly considering sending them to the North next month, Seoul's JoongAng Ilbo daily reported.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Tuesday that neither Bosworth nor Kim has plans to go to North Korea. U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said "no decision has been made regarding Special Envoy Bosworth's future travel, including any travel to North Korea."
The JoongAng report, citing an unidentified high-level diplomatic source in Washington, said the U.S. envoys might be able to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during the visit, considering Pyongyang's recent conciliatory attitude. Yonhap news agency also reported that the North has invited the two officials.
Pyongyang has long sought direct negotiations with Washington about its nuclear program and other issues, hoping to boost its international profile. The U.S. has said it is willing to talk bilaterally to Pyongyang, but only within the framework of six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.
"We are sticking to our existing position that we will continue faithfully carrying out U.N. resolutions while urging North Korea to return to six-party talks," Seoul's Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said regarding talks over the weekend between Bosworth and South Korean officials.
Washington has been keeping up pressure on Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear programs, sending a senior official to Asia to seek support for stringent implementation of the U.N. sanctions meant to punish the North for its May 25 nuclear test.
Separately, South Korea launched its first space rocket Tuesday in its quest to become a regional space power, along with China, Japan and India. North Korea has warned it would be "watching closely" for the international response to the launch after its own launch in April _ suspected as a disguised test of long-range missile technology _ drew a rebuke from the United Nations.
Over the past year, North Korea stoked tensions with nuclear and missile tests while boycotting international nuclear talks. But in recent weeks, the North has become markedly more conciliatory.
The North freed two American journalists following a trip to Pyongyang by former President Bill Clinton earlier this month. It also released a South Korean worker it held for more than four months, agreed to lift restrictions on border crossings with the South, and pledged to resume suspended joint inter-Korean projects and reunions of families separated during the Korean War over five decades ago.
South Korea's Unification Ministry said Tuesday the recently released worker was forced to admit to some false allegations during "coercive" questioning in North Korea.
Also Tuesday, Pyongyang accepted a South Korean offer to hold Red Cross talks from Wednesday to Friday to organize a new round of reunions of separated families, Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said. The North also restored a direct telephone line via the border village of Panmunjom, he said.
North Korea has long balanced stoking tensions with conciliatory overtures to extract concessions and head off sanctions.
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Associated Press Writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-03-01 04:00 GMT+08:00