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US Welcomes Conciliatory Statements by North Korea - 2002-07-27

The United States has welcomed this week's conciliatory statements by North Korea including an expression of regret over its naval clash late last month with South Korea. However State Department officials say no decision has been made on re-scheduling a visit to Pyongyang by a senior U.S. envoy that was shelved after the patrol-boat incident.

Officials here say they welcome North Korea's statement of regret and overture for talks with the South Koreans, and they hope it reflects a new attitude by Pyongyang.

The Bush administration offered to send Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly to North Korea last month for what would have been its first high-level dialogue with the communist government, but it withdrew its offer after the naval clash and because the North Koreans were slow in responding.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has begun a 10-day trip to Asia, will be in Brunei next week for an ASEAN regional forum that is also expected to be attended by North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam-Sun.

In a pre-trip interview with Asian journalists, the text of which was released Friday, Mr. Powell said he is an "open-minded" about the idea of meeting his North Korean counterpart in Brunei, though he said "nothing has been decided, one way or the other."