WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. Special Representative Stephen Bosworth will travel to North Korea for direct talks after President Barack Obama's Asian trip, U.S. officials said.
Bosworth's trip, aimed at convincing North Korea to return to the stalled six-nation talks on its denuclearization, was approved by Obama and will mark the first such direct contact between the two countries in more than a year, The Washington Post reported.
Senior administration officials said Obama made the decision after months of "intensive" talks with allies in East Asia on bringing back the Communist country to the talks. Bosworth's visit is expected before the year end.
North Korea walked out of the six-nation talks after a series of provocations including a nuclear test in May and several missile tests, which resulted in tougher U.N. sanctions. The United States has said any bilateral talks with North Korea will only be within the framework of the six-nation talks, which include the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.
"We have received the assurances that we sought from the North that they understood that this was the purpose," one senior administration official told The Post. "In the best of circumstances, they will simply agree to get back on the path they were on before the most recent provocations."
Obama's Asian visit itinerary includes South Korea, whose navy was involved in a brief but heavy firing Tuesday with a North Korean patrol boat off the Peninsula's west coast. Both countries blamed each other for the incident in which South Korea reported no casualties.
The South Korean government Wednesday welcomed the decision to send Bosworth to Pyongyang, Yonhap news agency reported.