U.S., N. Korea officials to meet

Feb. 13, 2012 at 10:07 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. and North Korean officials will hold their first meeting on the north's nuclear program since the change of leadership in Pyongyang, U.S. diplomats said.

The meeting is set for Feb. 23 in Beijing. The U.S. delegation will be led by Special Envoy Glyn Davies while North Korean First Vice Minister Kim Kye Gwan will head his country's team, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

It will be the third meeting between the two sides and the first since the death in December of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who was succeeded by his young son Kim Jong Un.

The two sides will discuss the Communist country's nuclear disarmament under the six-nation format whose talks have remained stalled since 2008.

"This is a continuation of the meetings that we've been having with North Korea to prepare -- to see if it is prepared to fulfill its commitments under the 2005 joint statement of the Six-Party Talks and its international obligations, as well as to take concrete steps towards denuclearization," Nuland said.

Besides China, the United States and North Korea, other members in the talks are Russia, Japan and South Korea.

The elder Kim's death came at a time when there had been renewed diplomatic efforts with North Korea to give up its nuclear program in exchange for massive aid including U.S. food assistance.

The United States wants the North to suspend its uranium enrichment program before the six-nation talks can resume.

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