N. Korea, U.S. Hold Direct Nuclear Talks

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UNITED NATIONS, July 29 (UPI) — North Korea and the United States are holding their first direct talks in three years at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, officials say.

The State Department termed the first day’s discussions Thursday “serious and businesslike,” CNN reported. The session continues Friday.

It is the two sides’ first direct meeting on nuclear issues since 2008 when North Korea withdrew from the six-party nuclear disarmament dialogue, which also includes South Korea, Russia, China and Japan.

The Americans invited the North Koreans after North and South Korean nuclear negotiators met at an Asian security conference in Bali, Indonesia, last week.

The teams are led by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kae Gwan and U.S. Ambassador Stephen Bosworth.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the talks will “sound out the North Koreans” and “gauge their seriousness.”

John Park, a Korea expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, said: “If there is forward movement, I think we will see other types of exploratory meetings that would lead to a serious consideration of a formal resumption of six-party talks.”

He said North Korea, which needs food aid, is engaged in a “larger charm offensive.”

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