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Prominent US senator meets NKorea envoy who vows to keep nuclear commitments
NEW YORK (AP) ' A prominent U.S. senator has met with North Korea's nuclear envoy who promised to live up to commitments made in an agreement last week with the United States.
Democrat Sen. John Kerry said that the North Korean made a "profound statement" about wanting a different relationship and not wanting to fight with the United States.
Kerry met the envoy, Ri Yong Ho, at an informal security conference in New York on Friday, a week after Pyongyang agreed to freeze nuclear activities in exchange for U.S. food aid.
That has contributed to an easing in tensions between the long-term adversaries, but is only a first step toward restarting six-nation disarmament negotiations.
Kerry told reporters: "Obviously words are not enough, it's going to take action."
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
NEW YORK (AP) ' The United States said Friday it won't let the recent progress in its nuclear diplomacy with North Korea affect its close relations with key ally South Korea.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered the reassurance after meeting South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan in Washington.
Despite warming U.S.-North Korean ties, tensions are running high on the divided Korean Peninsula, and Pyongyang appears cool to Seoul's offers of dialogue.
An academic conference in New York that winds up Friday offered an opportunity to break the ice.
Nuclear envoys from the North and South are both attending the non-official forum on security in Northeast Asia but have not held separate talks, although it appears Seoul was willing to have their envoy to meet his counterpart from Pyongyang.
"I want to be very clear: Any effort by anyone to drive a wedge between the United States and the Republic of Korea will fail," Clinton told a news conference at the State Department, alongside Kim. "We consult closely on all aspects of our diplomacy."
Last week, North Korea agreed to a freeze of nuclear activities in return for U.S. food aid. But while the North has reached out to the U.S., it has called for a "sacred war" against the South, in response to recent military exercises by the allies.
South Korean Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik called on North Korea Friday to hold talks with the South. The U.S. is also keen to see an improvement in inter-Korean relations.
"I urge North Korea again to come forward for dialogue as soon as its internal situation stabilizes," Yu said at a forum in Seoul, referring to the power transition in North Korea from longtime ruler Kim Jong Il, who died in December, to his untested son Kim Jong Un.
In New York, John Kerry, chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the transition in North Korea "perhaps makes it a moment of hope."
Kerry, the most senior U.S. figure attending the New York conference, said there were opportunities for engagement with North Korea, but advised caution too.
"We have been through this process before and it's proved disappointing on occasion, so I think you have to proceed cautiously," he told reporters on his way into the meeting.