A U.S. envoy is meeting with South Korean officials - before his visit to North Korea for the first one-on-one talks between Washington and Pyongyang since U.S. President Barack Obama took office.
Stephen Bosworth is in Seoul meeting Monday with the chief South Korean envoy to the six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program. He is also seeing the South Korean foreign minister, Yu Myung-hwan, before he flies to Pyongyang on Tuesday.
Bosworth is seeking North Korea's return to the six-party disarmament talks.
Bosworth said stopping in South Korea before the North Korea talks was "not an accident." His South Korean counterpart, Wi Sung-lak, said the visit is a clear signal that the U.S. and Seoul are in close consultation on the nuclear issue.
During his three-day stay in North Korea, Bosworth is expected to meet with Pyongyang's top nuclear strategist, First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju.
North Korea has pushed for direct talks with the U.S. since it pulled out of the six-party negotiations in protest of international criticism of its rocket launch in April.
The United States has said it is open to dialogue with the North if it leads to the resumption of the six-party talks that also involve South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.
After his trip to North Korea, the U.S. envoy will return to Seoul before traveling to Beijing, Tokyo, and Moscow.