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The BBC's Caroline Gluck in Seoul
"Celebrations have given way to frustration"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 23:24 GMT 00:24 UK
North Korea and US agree to talks
North Korean soldiers
Talks to look at all aspects of North Korea's military
The United States says North Korea has agreed to talks in New York within the next two weeks - the first between the two sides since President George W Bush took office in January.

A US State Department official said Washington's special envoy, Jack Pritchard, would take part in the meetings with North Korean officials at the United Nations. No date was given.

Mr Bush said last week that he was ready to resume talks, following a review of policy towards Pyongyang that he ordered at the beginning of his presidency.

Mr Bush had previously enraged North Korean leaders by saying he doubted whether they could be relied upon to keep to existing agreements.

International approval

The talks are expected to cover North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes and its conventional military forces.

President George W Bush
Bush's policy review resulted in the resumption of talks
There was wide international approval of the US initiative to resume talks with North Korea, four months after Washington suspended them.

Mr Bush said the United States was willing to resume security talks with North Korea on its missile programme - hinting that sanctions could be relaxed if progress is made.

The previous US administration had relatively close contacts with North Korea, culminating in a visit to Pyongyang in October last year by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

'Sunshine policy'

The South Korean Government, which has embarked on a "sunshine policy" towards the North, is very much in favour of talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

The resumption of talks could clear the way for a new summit between the two Koreas.

North Korea is under US sanctions due to its designation as a state sponsor of international terrorism.

At issue is the North's long-range missile programme. US officials are concerned that Pyongyang's rockets could one day reach US territory.

North Korea's exports of missiles to Iran and other countries have also alarmed Washington.

The North Korean leader said last month he intended to continue missile sales because his government needed the money.

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See also:

13 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
The Korean summit: One year on
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North Korea and US move closer
23 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Pyongyang reaches out
06 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
S Korea calls for new summit
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