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N. Korea, kind of easy topic for U.S.-Russia talks this week

All Headlines 04:53 August 08, 2013

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- As the United States and Russia prepare for sensitive high-level talks later this week, North Korea is expected to prove to be a relatively easy agenda item, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The State Department said North Korea will be discussed when the U.S. and Russian foreign and defense ministers meet in Washington on Friday in the "2+2" format.

Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki described the North Korea issue as included in an area of agreements.

Secretary of State John Kerry "expects and hopes to discuss everything from cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, areas where we've worked closely together -- where we have agreements," she told reporters.

"We believe we need to continue to cooperate on areas where we can, where (there) is progress to be made in the world. And Iran and North Korea are both certainly good examples of that," she said. "But there certainly is more work to be done given the challenge of these issues."

She acknowledged that the regional powers are also confronted with "disagreements on missile defense, arms control and human rights."

"It's not about discussing only issues where you agree or only issues where you disagree," Psaki added. "It will be a combination."

Global attention will be paid to the Friday talks, which come at a time when the tumultuous ties between Washington and Russia have soured again due to the case of Edward Snowden.

U.S. officials are upset about Russia's decision to grant temporary asylum to Snowden, accused of leaking secrets about National Security Agency surveillance programs.

Earlier in the day, the White House announced that it is canceling plans for a summit between President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow in September.

But Obama plans to attend the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, next month, his aides said.

Psaki said the Snowden matter will be discussed in the 2+2 session.

"It is a part but it is not a large part of what the agenda will be on Friday," she said.



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