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US, North Korea Begin Talks on Normalizing Relations

The United States and North Korea have begun landmark talks in New York aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations.

The late Monday meeting between chief U.S. negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye Kwan, is part of a six-nation deal reached last month, under which Pyongyang pledged to end its nuclear weapons programs in exchange for aid.

U.S. officials say they will press for a full disclosure of all North Korean nuclear programs, including the uranium enrichment effort.

The two sides are also expected to discuss long-standing disputes, such as U.S. trade sanctions against North Korea and the U.S. designation of the country as a state sponsor of terrorism.

A State Department spokesman said it is unlikely the talks will produce immediate results.

Also Monday, human rights activists called on the international community to include human rights on the agenda of talks with North Korea.

Human rights are not officially on the agenda for six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program out of concerns that they could hamper efforts to resolve the nuclear issue.

But a former Norwegian prime minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik rejected that argument, saying North Korea conducted a nuclear test last October despite the fact that the world was silent about human rights abuses.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.