U.S., North Korea see progress at talks in Geneva

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U.S., North Korea see progress at talks in Geneva

GENEVA - The United States and North Korea narrowed their differences in a second round of talks since wider negotiations on nuclear disarmament collapsed in 2009, the top U.S. negotiator said on Monday, but the start of a second day of talks was delayed without explanation yesterday.

Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, said the U.S. goal was to find a “solid foundation” on which to relaunch bilateral and multilateral talks with Pyongyang.

“We are moving in a positive direction. We have narrowed some differences, but we still have differences that we have to resolve,” Bosworth told reporters in Geneva after a first day of meetings and a dinner that he hosted for the North Korean delegation, led by First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan.

“We will continue to try to narrow differences,” he added.

Bosworth said that the discussions had been intensive but gave no clue as to where progress had been made or what areas remained problematic.

There was no immediate comment from North Korean officials, who were to host the talks yesterday. Bosworth said he expected to make a statement after the talks conclude.

But the second day of talks was delayed with no immediate explanation given.

U.S. officials said North Korea had asked the American delegation to come to its UN mission in Geneva “for a working lunch and an afternoon session.” The talks had been scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

Earlier, Clifford Hart, U.S. special envoy for the stalled six-party talks, told reporters after the morning session on the first day that each side had made “useful presentations” on its position.

The first day’s session, which followed talks in New York in late July, was aimed more at managing tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula than resuming stalled regional talks on ending the North’s nuclear programs.

U.S. officials have described the talks as “exploratory” and aimed at keeping Pyongyang engaged so as to avoid any “miscalculations” by the reclusive nation.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, speaking to reporters in Washington shortly before Bosworth’s remarks on Monday, said the talks were proceeding “in a very businesslike fashion.”

“In July, we gave the North Koreans a specific set of initiatives that we’d like to see to demonstrate that they are prepared to take concrete steps to meet their denuclearization obligations,” Nuland said.

AP, Reuters
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