N. Korean talks 'substantive,' U.S. says

Feb. 23, 2012 at 10:44 AM
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BEIJING, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. special envoy for North Korean policy said talks with Pyongyang on its nuclear program were headed in the right direction.

Beijing hosted talks Thursday among diplomats from the United States and North Korea. The talks are the first since North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died in December.

Glyn Davies, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, said the talks were "substantive and serious."

Both sides proposed to negotiate a deal for food assistance from the United States in exchange for an agreement by North Korea to halt uranium enrichment.

North Korea has tested nuclear devices with limited success in recent years.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported the potential for the resumption of six-party talks was up to the North Koreans, however.

Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, described the talks as "exploratory" but said Washington was so far "cautiously optimistic."

South Korea went on high alert after Kim died of an apparent heart attack in December. Kim Jong Un, the late leader's youngest son, took control over North Korea after his father died.

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