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State Department: Talks with N. Koreans Provided 'Nothing Particularly New' - 2003-01-11

U.S. officials say North Korean diplomats meeting in New Mexico with state governor Bill Richardson have conveyed "nothing particularly new" on the on-going nuclear crisis, but have expressed interest in dialogue with the United States. Mr. Richardson said he is to meet again Saturday with North Korean diplomats.

Mr. Richardson was a diplomatic troubleshooter with experience with North Korea in the Clinton administration and, at the governor's request, the Bush White House cleared the way for the two diplomats from North Korea's U.N. mission to visit him in Santa Fe.

However, a senior State Department official says that based on a telephone briefing for Secretary of State Colin Powell by Mr. Richardson, the North Koreans expressed an interest in dialogue between the two countries but provided "nothing particularly new" on matters of substance.

The senior official said the United States' position continues to be that is willing to talk to North Korea about how its will meet its obligations to the international community, and that the usual channels of communication remain open, should the Pyongyang government have more to say.

The two countries have no diplomatic relations, but officials here say North Korea could relay messages through intermediaries or directly to U.S. diplomats at the United Nations where the two sides have had informal contacts as recently as this past Tuesday.