October 29, 2009 / 7:14 PM / 10 years ago

No plan yet for U.S.-North Korea talks, U.S. says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Informal contacts between U.S. officials and a senior North Korean diplomat have not produced plans for formal bilateral talks, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.

Ri Gun, North Korea’s second-ranking nuclear negotiator, met in New York and in California with Sung Kim, the U.S. special envoy to disarmament talks.

The rare contacts were seen as a possible step toward a formal U.S.-North Korea meeting that would in turn lead to a resumption of long-stalled six-country nuclear talks. But a State Department spokesman said no new meetings were agreed.

“There was no agreement for a specific bilateral meeting and no agreement to make any announcement of that sort, either,” said spokesman Ian Kelly, quoting Sung Kim.

Kim and Ri met in New York on October 24 and then earlier this week at a closed-door “Track II” meeting of Northeast Asia experts in La Jolla, California.

Kim had used the New York meeting to convey to Ri the U.S. position on the six-party talks, the State Department said.

Washington is willing to meet North Korea in a bilateral setting, if such contacts lead to a resumption of six-party talks that also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

The six-party talks have been stalled since North Korea quit them six months ago. Then in May Pyongyang conducted its second nuclear test.

Ri is scheduled to attend another unofficial meeting with Asia experts in New York on Friday, but Kelly said it had not been decided yet whether Sung Kim would travel to New York for more meetings with the North Korean envoy.

Editing by Philip Barbara

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