Wednesday, May 21, 2014

N. Korea's nuclear envoy to meet ex-U.S. officials in Mongolia

BEIJING, May 21 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's chief nuclear envoy is scheduled to hold an informal meeting with former U.S. government officials on the sidelines of an academic conference in Mongolia this week, a diplomatic source with knowledge of the matter said Wednesday.

The planned meeting between Ri Yong-ho, Pyongyang's chief negotiator to the stalled six-party talks, and former U.S. officials, including Joel Wit, a former U.S. State Department official specializing in North Korean issues, comes as North Korea has threatened to conduct its fourth nuclear test. Ri arrived in Beijing on Tuesday on his way to Mongolia.

Although no incumbent U.S. officials will attend the conference in Mongolia, such informal meetings between North Korea's nuclear diplomats and former U.S. officials have served as venues for them to share ideas about resuming the six-party talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons program.

"Like previous informal meetings, this week's meeting in Mongolia is expected to allow the two sides to exchange views on ways to resume the six-party talks," the source said on the condition of anonymity.

Since late March, North Korea has been threatening to conduct its fourth nuclear test, although recent satellite images showed no immediate signs of a test.

The six-party forum, which includes the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, has been dormant since late 2008.

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