DIPLOMACY

US to allow visit by top North Korean diplomat

The US State Department announced on Friday that it would allow a senior North Korean diplomat to visit the US later this month, giving rise to speculation that new nuclear negotiations may not be far off.

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The US State Department announced on Friday that it had granted a visa to a senior North Korean diplomat to allow him to take part in seminars later this month, giving rise to speculation that a diplomatic thaw, and new nuclear talks, may not be far off.

"The State Department has decided to authorise the issuance of visas for Ambassador Ri Gun and his delegation to attend conferences in the United States in late October," spokesman Ian Kelly said in a statement.

The visa was approved to allow Ri, who served as a deputy negotiator in previous talks on North Korea's nuclear program, to attend a seminar at the University of California in San Diego and one in New York jointly hosted by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and the Korea Society.

Last week Pyongyang expressed conditional agreement to return to the stalled six-party disarmament talks, which it left in April, that grouped the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

But the North insists on holding talks with the United States alone before returning to the multiparty talks, a stipulation that Washington rejects.

North Korea earned renewed international condemnation earlier this year when it tested a nuclear weapon for the second time and launched a series of missiles.  

On Monday Pyongyang test-fired five more short-range missiles.
 

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