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U.S. has no immediate plan for high-level contact with N. Korea: State Dept.

All Headlines 05:35 February 20, 2010

By Hwang Doo-hyong

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- The United States does not have immediate plans for another high-level diplomatic meeting with North Korea, the State Department said Friday, dismissing reports that North Korea's chief nuclear envoy will soon visit New York for meetings with his U.S. counterparts.

"There are no plans right now for North Korean officials to come to the United States, nor for U.S. officials to meet with North Koreans," spokesman Philip Crowley said.

Reports said that Kim Kye-gwan will visit New York on March 2 to attend an academic seminar and also meet with Sung Kim, U.S. special envoy for six-party talks, and other officials to discuss resumption of the nuclear talks stalled over U.N. sanctions for the North's nuclear and missile tests last year.

Diplomatic sources here said that discussions are under way regarding Kim's U.S. visit.

"No decision, however, has been made yet on that," a source said.

The North Korean envoy last week visited Beijing, and said that he discussed with Chinese officials the reopening of the six-party talks and a peace treaty to replace the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency later said that Kim also discussed removal of international sanctions on North Korea, another precondition Pyongyang has set prior to any revival of the multilateral nuclear talks, which have been on and off since their inception in 2003.

Crowley dismissed the report that Kim's delegation contacted U.S. officials in Beijing.

"We did not have a meeting (with North Koreans) in China," he said.

Washington has said it is ready to discuss those issues, but only after the North returns to the talks, which also involve South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

The first high-level bilateral contact for the Obama administration was made in December when Stephen Bosworth, special representative for North Korea policy, flew to Pyongyang.

Wang Jiarui, head of the international liaison department of the Chinese Communist Party, visited the North Korean capital early this month to meet with leader Kim Jong-il in the fifth such meeting for the Chinese official since 2004.

While meeting with Wang, the North Korean leader reaffirmed his nation's commitment to denuclearization, but also underscored "sincere efforts" of the parties involved in an apparent reference to the North's demand for a peace treaty and the removal of sanctions.

hdh@yna.co.kr
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