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KCNA: U.S., North Korea to hold working-level talks

By Elizabeth Shim
KCNA: U.S., North Korea to hold working-level talks
North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-Hui (L) confirmed bilateral talks on Tuesday. File Photo by Bui Lam Khanh/EPA-EFE

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- North Korea confirmed working-level talks with the United States for Saturday in a statement that included expectations of a "positive development" following the meeting.

Choe Son Hui, Pyongyang's first vice foreign minister, said the two sides had reached an agreement on the date of the meeting, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday.

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"Both sides, North Korea and the United States, have agreed to proceed with negotiations on Oct. 5, following preliminary contact on Oct. 4," Choe said.

The statement did not include a location, but candidate countries include Sweden, where Pyongyang has an embassy, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

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North Korea's confirmation of talks comes after Kim Myong Gil, Pyongyang's chief negotiator, praised U.S. President Donald Trump for replacing former national security adviser John Bolton.

"U.S.-North Korea negotiations may now take place," Kim said on Sept. 20, ahead of Trump's address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

In his first statement to the media since his ouster, Bolton said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington he is opposed to Trump's North Korea policy. Bolton also said he believes North Korea will never denuclearize.

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North Korea has signaled an interest in returning to talks since September, but has also asked the Trump administration to come up with a "new calculation method" before the end of the year.

The regime could be seeking a gradual and phased denuclearization approach. The United States has maintained complete denuclearization must come first before concessions like sanctions relief.

South Korean television network KBS reported Tuesday it is likely U.S. special envoy on North Korea Stephen Biegun will meet with Kim Myong Gil.

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If progress is made during talks, the meeting could pave the way for a third summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, according to Yonhap.

The two sides last met in June in Panmunjom.

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