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N. Korean economic delegation arrives in New York

All Headlines 15:17 March 28, 2011

NEW YORK, March 27 (Yonhap) -- A delegation of North Korean economic officials arrived in New York on Sunday, saying that they want to explore the possibility of economic cooperation with the United States.

The 12-member delegation, comprising mid-level officials from the trade, agriculture and other ministries, flew from San Diego, where they had stayed after arriving in the U.S. on March 19 at the invitation of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at University of California, San Diego.

The delegation's trip to New York was organized by the Asia Society.

It is rare for North Korean officials to visit the U.S. The North and the U.S. fought in the 1950-53 Korean War and have no diplomatic relations. The two sides have also been at odds over Pyongyang's nuclear programs and a series of provocations.

But the trip came amid recent talk of the possibility of the U.S. resuming food aid to the impoverished nation and as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is preparing to visit the communist nation to broker rapprochement between the two Cold War foes.

"We're an economic delegation. We're here to discuss and look for the possibility of economic cooperation between us and the United States," one member of the delegation said, without giving his name.

Washington has downplayed the significance of the North's delegation, stressing that their visit is a privately organized event in which the government has played no part.

"Our assessment is that they are not here for talks between the North and the U.S., considering the agencies they belong to and their ranks," a source here said. "It's difficult to fathom the real intentions of the North, but for the U.S., it might have seen no reason to reject the North's delegation coming to learn about the capitalist economy."

In New York, the North Korean officials are expected to attend an Asian Society seminar and visit media firms and Wall Street. The Asia Society has strictly barred reporters from access to the North Koreans, saying their trip is part of private-level exchanges.

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