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Page last updated at 12:19 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

North Korea nuclear talks 'useful', says US envoy

By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Seoul

US special envoy Stephen Bosworth speaks at a press briefing after a visit to Pyongyang at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on December 10, 2009
Mr Bosworth met top officials in North Korea but not leader Kim Jong-il

The US special envoy for North Korea says he has had "useful" talks with officials on a three-day trip to its capital, Pyongyang.

But Stephen Bosworth says he does not know when or how North Korea will resume talks on its nuclear programmes.

These were the first official discussions between the US and North Korea since Barack Obama took office.

North Korea walked away from nuclear talks earlier this year, but then said it could return.

'Different future'

Mr Bosworth spoke to reporters in Seoul, South Korea, after returning from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), as the North is officially called.

It remains to be seen when and how North Korea will return to the six-party talks
Stephen Bosworth,

US special envoy, North Korea

He said: "There is common understanding with the DPRK on the need to... resume the six-party process."

These discussions - involving the US, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas - are aimed at getting rid of the North's nuclear capabilities in return for aid and security guarantees.

Earlier this year this process, which has been going on since 2003, seemed dead after North Korea carried out a long-range rocket launch and a nuclear test.

NUCLEAR CRISIS
Oct 2006 - North Korea conducts an underground nuclear test
Feb 2007 - North Korea agrees to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for fuel aid
June 2007 - North Korea shuts its main Yongbyon reactor
June 2008 - North Korea makes its long-awaited declaration of nuclear assets
Oct 2008 - The US removes North Korea from its list of countries which sponsor terrorism
Dec 2008 - Pyongyang slows work to dismantle its nuclear programme, after a US decision to suspend energy aid
April 2009 - Pyongyang launches a rocket carrying what it says is a communications satellite
25 May 2009 - North Korea conducts a second nuclear test
5 August 2009 - Former US President Bill Clinton visits to help secure the release of two detained US journalists
6 October 2009 - North Korea tells China it may be willing to return to six-party talks

It said it would never again get involved in the talks. But China managed to persuade officials in Pyongyang to consider returning to the six-party talks.

Mr Bosworth's trip was aimed at showing North Korea the "different future" that awaited it if it rejoined talks and eventually gave up its nuclear ambitions.

But on this issue, Mr Bosworth appears to have made little progress.

"It remains to be seen when and how the DPRK will return to the six-party talks," said the US envoy, who was the US ambassador to South Korea 10 years ago.

Despite this, Mr Bosworth praised his hosts, saying discussions were "candid and business-like".

He met several top officials, although not the man who runs the country, Kim Jong-il. He was apparently out of the capital for at least some of the time during Mr Bosworth's visit.

The secretive state's official Korean Central News Agency reported that the "Dear Leader" had visited a tractor factory and a cattle farm in northern Jagang Province.

Mr Bosworth will now fly to Tokyo, Beijing and Moscow to brief officials from the other nations involved in the six-party talks before heading home.



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