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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Senior SKorean official leaves for nuclear talks in US

A senior South Korean foreign ministry official left Wednesday for New York for talks with his US counterparts on North Korea's nuclear programme, officials said.

The foreign ministry said Hwang Joon-Kook, head of the North Korean nuclear issue bureau, would meet Sung Kim, director of the US State Department's Office of Korean Affairs, and other officials during his four-day trip to New York.

"The visit was made at the request of the US government," a ministry official told AFP.

The ministry declined to confirm a report by the South's Yonhap news agency that Hwang may meet Ri Gun, head of the American affairs bureau of the North's foreign ministry, to discuss ways to verify Pyongyang's recent nuclear claims.

Ri, who is in New York to attend an academic seminar, plans to meet US officials, Yonhap said.

"The US asked for consultations with us before and after the planned talks with North Korea," an unidentified official here was quoted as saying.

Washington last month removed North Korea from a list of state sponsors of terrorism saying Pyongyang had agreed to steps to verify its nuclear disarmament and pledged to resume disabling its atomic plants.

But nations involved in six-party talks have yet to endorse a protocol for the hardline communist country to fully verify its nuclear record.

(Source: AFP)

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