US diplomat due to arrive in S. Korea before talks in China, N. Korea

The US State Department's top Koreas expert launched a mission to advance a stalled nuclear disarmament deal, heading Tuesday to South Korea and planning to travel this week to China and North Korea, the US Embassy said. The accord aimed at halting North Korea's nuclear programs appeared at a standstill after the communist nation missed a Dec. 31 deadline to declare all its nuclear programs. North Korea has said it provided a statement, but the United States says that statement was incomplete. The State Department official, Sung Kim, was to arrive in South Korea later Tuesday and planned to leave Wednesday for Beijing and travel Thursday to Pyongyang before returning to Washington on Sunday, embassy spokesman Max Kwak said in Seoul.