US, N. Korea start talks with eye on nuclear progress

July 28, 2011 21:42

NEW YORK - The United States and North Korea on Thursday began exploratory talks in which Washington is looking for concrete signs that Pyongyang is ready to discuss its nuclear program after a more than two-year hiatus.

The US special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, sat down with veteran North Korean nuclear negotiator Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan at the US mission to the United Nations in New York for discussions that were expected to continue into Friday.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner underscored that the talks were exploratory and Washington aimed to gauge Pyongyang's willingness to take real steps to ease tensions and re-engage in aid-for-disarmament negotiations.

"We're quite clear, broadly, on what we're looking for, which is for North Korea to live up to its commitments ... it needs to take concrete steps toward denuclearization," Toner told a news briefing in Washington.

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