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Report: North says Koreas work toward nuke talks
North says both Koreas agree to work together to resume stalled nuclear talks, report says
By The Associated Press

BALI, Indonesia (AP) ' Yonhap news agency has quoted North Korea's top nuclear envoy as saying the two Koreas have agreed to work together to resume stalled disarmament talks.

Ri Yong Ho met face-to-face with his South Korean counterpart, Wi Sung-lac, on the sidelines of Asia's largest security forum Friday.

The meeting was the first between nuclear envoys from the two sides since six-party talks collapsed in 2008.



Yonhap quoted Ri as saying: "We agreed to make efforts to resume the six-party talks soon."

North Korea had walked out to protest international criticism of a prohibited long-range rocket launch. But it has indicated willingness recently to return to the table. It stands to get badly needed aid and other concessions if it does.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BALI, Indonesia (AP) ' North and South Korea were holding face-to-face talks on the sidelines of Asia's largest security gathering Friday, marking a possible attempt to resume international negotiations to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

The meeting was the first between nuclear envoys from the two sides since six-party talks collapsed in 2008.

North Korea, which had walked out to protest international criticism of a prohibited long-range rocket launch, has indicated willingness in recent months to return to the table. It stands to get badly needed aid and other concessions if it does.

The presence of diplomats from all six countries involved in the talks ' the United States, China, Russia, Japan and North and South Korea ' at the ASEAN Regional Forum on Bali island raised hopes of a breakthrough.

Raising speculation, North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun announced earlier Friday that Ri Yong Ho, a career diplomat who once served as ambassador to Britain, had been named the country's top new top nuclear envoy.

Hours later, Ri was holding closed-door meetings with his South Korean counterpart, Wi Sung-lac, a first, necessary step for talks between the two sides at a higher level.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also would discuss their "mutual desire for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula" on Friday.

Yang agreed, saying this was the time to unite.

"Anything we can do together to promote a better atmosphere and good dialogue among the parties concerned and to restart the six-party talks would be in the best interests of peace, stability and security of the region," he said.

South Korea and the United States say North Korea must demonstrate a commitment to denuclearization before any negotiations can resume. Seoul also wants a show of regret for two deadly incidents South Korea blames on the North: the sinking of a warship a year ago and an artillery attack on a front-line island in November.

The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953. The U.S. has 28,500 troops in the South ' a presence that Pyongyang cites as a main factor behind its need to build a nuclear program.


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