N. Korea, U.S. conclude nuclear talks

July 29, 2011 at 5:30 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, July 29 (UPI) -- Two days of "constructive and business-like" talks with North Korea over its nuclear program ended Friday, the U.S. State Department said.

The discussions at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York were the first direct talks between the two countries in three years. State Department officials said the goal of the talks was to "explore the willingness of North Korea to take concrete and irreversible steps toward denuclearization."

"In that regard, these were constructive and business-like discussions," the State Department said in a statement.

It is the two sides' first direct meeting on nuclear issues since 2008 when North Korea withdrew from the six-party nuclear disarmament dialogue, which also includes South Korea, Russia, China and Japan.

The Americans invited the North Koreans after North and South Korean nuclear negotiators met at an Asian security conference in Bali, Indonesia, last week. The teams are led by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kae Gwan and U.S. Ambassador Stephen Bosworth.

John Park, a Korea expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, told CNN: "If there is forward movement, I think we will see other types of exploratory meetings that would lead to a serious consideration of a formal resumption of six-party talks."

He said North Korea, which needs food aid, is engaged in a "larger charm offensive."

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