Reports: North Korea's Main Nuclear Envoy To Visit US

Friday, February 23rd 2007, 6:35 am
By: News On 6

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator plans to visit the United States within days for follow-up talks on a recent disarmament deal, South Korean news reports said Saturday.

The North's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan is expected to arrive in San Francisco on Thursday en route to New York for meetings with his U.S. counterpart, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

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

Major South Korean newspapers carried similar reports. None of the reports said how long Kim was expected to stay in the U.S.

North Korea agreed at six-nation nuclear talks in Beijing days ago to shutter and disable its nuclear facilities in exchange for energy aid and political incentives, including the opening of two-way talks with the U.S. on establishing diplomatic relations.

Hill said at the end of the negotiations that he had invited Kim to New York for normalization discussions.

The breakthrough deal put a cap on rising tensions in the region since North Korea's nuclear test in October. But it also faced criticism for allegedly rewarding the communist nation for bad behavior.

The countries involved in the six-nation talks are the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia.