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UN Urges North Korea to Continue Talks

  • Peter Simpson

North Korea is not eager to return to six-party talks but has not rejected the idea, the U.N.'s top political official said on Friday following a trip to the reclusive country.

UN under-secretary-general for political affairs Lynn Pascoe said Friday he spent four days in Pyongyang having "useful talks" with senior members of the North Korean government, including top official Kim Yong-Nam .

But, Pascoe revealed that North Korea is not eager to return to six-party talks.

"The attitude right now as I said is they are not happy with the sanctions and they were certainly not eager - not ruling out but certainly not eager - to return to the Six Party Talks, so we'll see where that comes," he said.

Pascoe's comments came as news reports said North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye-gwan, was planning a rare visit to the U.S. next month.

But the UN envoy refused to speculate on such a visit, citing the sensitivity surrounding the latest attempts by China this week to persuade North Korea to return to the six-party talks.

Meanwhile in Beijing, Chinese and North Korean officials met for a third day Thursday to try to restart the six-party talks, which Pyongyang has boycotted since last year.

And the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan met in Seoul and demanded that North Korea return to the six-party talks unconditionally. South Korea's Yu Myung-hwan and his Japanese counterpart, Katsuya Okada, said North Korea also must make "practical progress" in denuclearization, before it can get any political or economic concessions.

Pascoe flies onto Tokyo and Seoul Saturday to brief the Japanese and South Korean governments.

The six-party talks involve the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, Japan and China. North Korea has conditioned its return to the talks on a lifting of international sanctions and a start to peace negotiations with the United States.

A 1953 armistice ended the Korean War, but a formal peace treaty has never been signed