'US, N. Korea envoys to meet in China'

State Dept.: no meeting scheduled; official says North close to turning in account of its nuke program.

Chris hill 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Chris hill 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
A senior US official says the chief US envoy for North Korean nuclear disarmament talks will meet next week with his North Korean counterpart in China. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting is not officially scheduled. State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters Friday there is no meeting between Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and North Korean officials on the schedule. He says, however, that the North knows Hill will be in Beijing from Tuesday to Thursday. Casey says Hill plans to be in Moscow from Thursday to Saturday for nuclear talks with his Russian counterpart. Casey says that Hill will be briefing officials on talks he held this week with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts. Also Friday, a senior US official said North Korea is very close to turning in a long-awaited accounting of its nuclear program, which would be a major step toward a disarmament deal with the reclusive communist government. The official says weeks of preparation with North Korea and other nations bargaining with Pyongyang are coming to a close. No date is agreed, but the documentation is expected within a month. That would clear the way for a high-stakes meeting as soon as the end of June between the top US and North Korean diplomats.