US and North Korean officials will meet in New York next Monday to discuss first steps toward establishing normal ties after decades of hostility, the State Department said Wednesday.
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will hold two days of meetings with tNorth Korea's Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan. The officials head their countries' negotiating delegations at six-party talks that resulted in a nuclear disarmament agreement on February 13. Talks on normalizing relations were called for in that agreement.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Kim would stop in San Francisco on his way to New York for talks with non-governmental organizations. Kim was to arrive in New York tomorrow for internal consultations before his meetings with Hill, McCormack said. He had no other details.
McCormack said Hill and Kim would spend a lot of time working on the agenda for the normalization process. "It's not a meeting that will produce immediate results," he said.
On Tuesday, US intelligence officials told skeptical lawmakers that North Korea appears to have started complying with the disarmament agreement, though they said they would continue to watch the country's actions closely.
Lieutenant General Michael Maples, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said officials had seen North Korea begin inspections of its main nuclear reactor, which the North pledged to shut down and seal in return for an initial load of fuel oil. More aid would follow once North Korea technicians had disabled its nuclear programs.
(China Daily via agencies March 1, 2007)