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US, NKorean officials join in unofficial talks

US, NKorean officials join in unofficial talks

U.S. and North Korean officials wrapped up unofficial talks Tuesday with other northeast Asian countries about regional security, but no major breakthroughs were expected.
The two-day meeting in San Diego was designed to be "frank but friendly" and was not preparation for a resumption of official multilateral talks, said Susan Shirk, a University of California-San Diego professor and founder of the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue.
North Korea carried out nuclear and missile tests earlier this year, but North Korean leader Kim Jong Il recently said his country could rejoin international disarmament talks, depending on the status of direct talks with the U.S.
The U.S. has said it is willing to hold direct talks with North Korea if it leads to resumption of the six-party talks aimed at halting the country's nuclear weapons programs. The talks would also involve South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.
Tuesday's forum involved senior officials from the six countries and comes amid a series of recent conciliatory moves by North Korea. But Shirk said the timing was simply coincidental.
"It is in no way a preparation for official talks," Shirk told reporters on the campus of the university, which organized the event. "I have no clearer idea now than I did two days ago about when or if official talks will resume."
"I don't see any major breakthroughs," she said.
North Korea and the United States do not have diplomatic relations. North Korea's No. 2 nuclear negotiator, Ri Gun, was given permission to visit the U.S. and attended the meeting in La Jolla, an upscale area of San Diego, along with chief U.S. nuclear negotiator Sung Kim.
Shirk said defense officials from five countries _ excluding North Korea _ would continue to meet through Wednesday. Shirk said she traveled to Pyongyang to invite North Korea to send defense officials but they did declined.
Song Il Hyok, a senior researcher at North Korea's Institute for Disarmament and Peace, declined to speak with reporters.


Updated : 2021-05-17 03:45 GMT+08:00