U.S. and North Korean diplomats Monday began two days of talks in Geneva, Switzerland, about restarting six-party negotiations on Pyongyang's nuclear programs.
The U.S. delegation is headed by outgoing special envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth and his successor, Glyn Davies. They will present Washington's position that Pyongyang must stop its uranium enrichment program and allow U.N. inspectors back into the country before the multilateral talks can resume.
North Korea's delegation, led by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-kwan, is likely to be bound by remarks from leader Kim Jong Il. He told Russia's state-run news agency Itar-Tass last week that talks should resume swiftly and without preconditions.
However North Korea is under pressure from its main ally, China, to improve relations with the United States and South Korea. Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Li Kequiang told North Korean Premier Choe Yong Rim on Sunday that such moves would promote stability in the region.
The United States describes the talks in Geneva as exploratory. A spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Mark Toner, stressed last week that the United States is looking for a "seriousness of purpose" on the part of North Korea.
The two countries held their first round of dialogue in New York in late July.
North Korea quit the six-party talks, which also involve China, Russia, South Korea and Japan, in April 2009, but in recent months has repeatedly expressed a desire to return to the negotiating table.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.