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October 06, 2011

US Mulls Additional Pyongyang Nuclear Talks

by Peter Cobus

The United States says it has not decided whether to hold a second bilateral meeting with North Korea to restart long-stalled talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

The top U.S. official on East Asian affairs, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, said President Barack Obama and his South Korean counterpart, Lee Myung-bak, will discuss an "appropriate way forward" on North Korea when they meet next week in Washington.

Campbell made his remarks Friday in Seoul, after holding talks with South Korea's foreign minister.

In July, North Korean and U.S. diplomats held a rare round of bilateral discussions in New York on ways to revive the six-party talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea has been seeking a resumption of the six-party talks, but South Korea and the U.S. have insisted that it first follow through on past promises to disarm.

The U.S., Russia, China, Japan and South Korea have been negotiating with North Korea for eight years to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in exchange for food, energy and aid.  The six-party talks have been frozen since Pyongyang quit the negotiations in 2008.

In August, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed a willingness to impose a moratorium on his country's nuclear program if the talks resume.

South Korea marks the second stop on Campbell's Asian tour, after a visit to Japan on Thursday. He will also travel to Hong Kong, Brunei, Thailand and China.