02/26/2007, 00.00
NORTH KOREA – UNITED STATES
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Chief North Korean negotiator ready to go to the US

If visit takes place, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, it will be the first US visit by a high level official from the Stalinist regime since the crisis began in 2002. Nuclear disarmament and diplomatic relations are on the agenda.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator plans to visit the US within days for follow-up talks on the recent six-nation disarmament deal and on establishing diplomatic relations between Washington and Pyongyang.

Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan is expected to arrive in San Francisco on Thursday en route to New York for meetings with his US counterpart, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill.

If Mr Kim's trip takes place, it would be the first US visit by North Korea's main nuclear envoy since the international standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear provocations flared in late 2002.

The meeting was decided last February 13 during the last six-nation talks when it was agreed that North Korea would turn off its nuclear reactors in exchange for a million tonnes of fuel.

"We hope to establish the US-DPRK working group soon and make an announcement," said State Department spokeswoman Janelle Hironimus, using the acronym for North Korea's formal name.

Using the acronym for the formal name of the “Dear leader’s regime, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is in itself a positive sign since the US traditionally referred to the country it included in its rogue states list only as North Korea. 

In another development, the United States agreed to hand Seoul wartime operational control over its own forces in 2012. In returning wartime control to South Korea, the two countries formally end command arrangements that date back to the Korean War.

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