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January 03, 2011

US Envoy in Seoul for Talks on Korea Crisis

U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth is in South Korea for talks on how to resolve tensions with North Korea. The American diplomat's meetings kick off an intense round of diplomacy as the regional powers look for a negotiated solution to the crisis sparked by Pyongyang's shelling of a South Korean island.

Arriving in South Korea Tuesday evening, Bosworth expressed hope that six-nation talks about North Korea's nuclear program could revive soon.

"We believe that serious negotiation must be at the heart of any strategy for dealing with North Korea," Bosworth said.  "And we look forward to being able to launch those at a reasonably early time."

Bosworth meets Wednesday with South Korean foreign ministry officials, before heading to Beijing.

He is traveling with the U.S. diplomat handling nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea, Sung Kim.

At the State Department on Monday, a spokesman characterized Pyongyang's recent less confrontational tone as "promising"" but said North Korea must match its words with deeds.

China has called for resuming the six-party talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue and tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The six-party talks, which involve both Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, began in 2003. They have not been held since 2008. In 2009, Pyongyang announced it would not return to the talks and ordered U.N. inspectors to leave the country. It conducted a second nuclear weapons test a month later.

Tensions soared last year on the Korean peninsula. North Korea was blamed for sinking a South Korean navy ship in March, killing 46 sailors. In November, the North shelled a South Korean island, killing four people.