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US Envoy Holds Security Talks with N. Korean Officials - 2002-10-04

U.S. envoy James Kelly was holding a second day of security talks in North Korea Friday. He is the most senior U.S. official to visit the Stalinist North since President Bush declared it part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran and Iraq.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly spent the day in meetings with North Korean officials. Among other officials in Pyongyang, he apparently met with North Korea's vice foreign minister and the head of the country's parliament.

U.S. State Department officials have said it is too early to disclose details of Mr. Kelly's discussions. No reporters are traveling with Mr. Kelly, so virtually nothing is known about how the talks are progressing.

Issues the U.S. team might raise include North Korea's missile program and its suspected program for creating nuclear weapons. North Korea is looking for financial support as it tries to revive its impoverished economy.

Mr. Kelly is expected to give a news briefing after he arrives in Seoul on Saturday.

The talks are the first of their kind in two years. In 2000, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited Pyongyang and met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Relations between Washington and Pyongyang have been poor since President Bush took office in January 2001 and announced a review of the United States' North Korea policy. But in recent months, both sides have expressed a willingness to reopen communication.