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US Delegation to Visit North Korea


A senior U.S. congressional aide and two other Americans will travel to North Korea next week to discuss ongoing efforts to disable the country's nuclear weapons program.

Keith Luse, an aide to Senator Richard Lugar, tells VOA Korean Service that they will meet with North Korean officials during the five-day visit. But complete details of the trip will not be available until after they arrive in Pyongyang.

Luse says the delegation expects to discuss the possibility of using a U.S. program, the Nunn-Lugar program, to destroy nuclear weapons in North Korea. The program was previously used in the former Soviet Union to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

Luse will travel to North Korea with a former State Department official and North Korea expert, Joel Witt, as well as Siegfried Hecker. Hecker is the former director of the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory, where the U.S. atomic bomb was developed.

Luse says North Korean officials began to ask more detailed questions about the Nunn-Lugar program when he visited the country last year in October. In particular, he says they are interested in learning more about how nuclear scientists and technicians at Yongbyon could use their skills for other projects.

North Korea is in the process of disabling its Yongbyon facility and U.S. officials say most of the work is already done. But talks about North Korea's nuclear weapons program have stalled since it failed to meet a deadline late last year to declare all its nuclear activities.

Since then, participants in the six-nation talks have been trying to get Pyongyang to hand over the list and keep the talks moving forward.

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