U.S.-North talks result in ‘progress,’ envoy says

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U.S.-North talks result in ‘progress,’ envoy says

BEIJING - The United States and North Korea “made a little bit of progress” in talks aimed at finding ways to resume broader six-nation negotiations over the North’s nuclear weapons program, Washington’s chief envoy to the talks said yesterday.

Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, however, told reporters in Beijing that there was no breakthrough, saying “the word goes too far.”

The two sides discussed North Korea’s nuclear program and humanitarian issues, he said.

The Beijing talks, the first since the December death of the North’s longtime leader Kim Jong-il, were widely seen as a chance to gauge whether Pyongyang’s new regime under young leader Kim Jong-un is open to negotiations to give up its nuclear ambition.

Ending the first day of talks on Thursday, neither side gave any details of what progress had been made, but both sounded a positive note.

Davies said the talks were “substantive and serious,” while the North’s long-serving nuclear envoy Kim Kye-gwan termed the discussions “positive.”

The six-party talks, which involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, were last held in Beijing in late 2008.

Shortly before Kim’s death, North Korea and the U.S. appeared to be ready to announce a breakthrough that could have led to a resumption of the six-nation talks.

North Korea and the U.S. had been poised to reach a deal in which Pyongyang would halt its uranium enrichment program in return for a resumption of Washington’s food assistance.

In Washington on Thursday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner reiterated that Washington is holding to its demand that Pyongyang honor a 2005 agreement at the six-party talks to give up its nuclear weapons.


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