US and N Korea hold un­of­fi­cial talks in Malaysia

The Myanmar Times - - World -

A GROUP of for­mer US diplo­mats held closed-door talks at the week­end with se­nior Py­ongyang of­fi­cials, even as in­ter­na­tional ef­forts gather pace to fur­ther iso­late North Korea, both diplo­mat­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally.

The two-day meet­ing in Kuala Lumpur, which was con­firmed by the South Korean and US gov­ern­ments, was the lat­est in a series of un­of­fi­cial talks com­monly re­ferred to as Track 2 that are closely mon­i­tored in the ab­sence of any of­fi­cial con­tact be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Py­ongyang.

In July, the North cut off its only re­main­ing of­fi­cial chan­nel of diplo­matic com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the United States in re­tal­i­a­tion for Amer­i­can sanc­tions against its leader, Kim Jong-un.

The so-called “New York chan­nel” had pre­vi­ously served as a key point of con­tact be­tween North Korean and US diplo­mats at the United Na­tions.

Amer­i­can par­tic­i­pants at the talks in the Malaysian cap­i­tal in­cluded Robert Gal­lucci, who had led the US ne­go­ti­at­ing team that bro­kered a 1994 deal with Py­ongyang on freez­ing its nu­clear weapons and mis­sile pro­grams.

Among those on the North Korean side was vice for­eign min­is­ter Han Song-ryol, who pre­vi­ously served as deputy am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions.

The meet­ing came af­ter North Korea on Oc­to­ber 20 test-fired a pow­er­ful new medium-range mis­sile. Leon Si­gal, an aca­demic spe­cial­is­ing in the Koreas who at­tended the talks, said the North’s nu­clear weapons pro­gram had dom­i­nated the dis­cus­sion.

Mr Si­gal told South Korea’s Yon­hap news agency that the North had re­it­er­ated the need to sign a peace treaty with the United States be­fore mov­ing on its weapons pro­gram.

The US side stressed that the moves to scrap the nu­clear pro­gram

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