Saturday, August 15, 2009

North Korea says door open for talks with US

North Korea is willing to hold talks with Washington, a senior diplomat for the state said on Friday in the first such comments since former US President Bill Clinton’s visit to Pyongyang last week.

Since North Korea has released two US journalists and a South Korean worker in recent days in conciliatory moves, analysts say this could mark a change in tone from Pyongyang.

Asked about the possibility of talks with the United States, Kim Yong-il, a vice minister in the North’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Hanoi through an interpreter: “We always keep the door open to negotiations.”

It is rare for high-ranking North Korean officials to make comments to reporters when travelling overseas. Kim was in Vietnam for the second annual vice-ministerial policy exchange between the two countries. North Korea has said in its official media it is always willing to try diplomacy with the United States but that Washington needs to drop what Pyongyang sees as a hostile attitude.

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