The Washington Post
Top U.S. Nuclear Negotiator Traveling to North Korea
SEOUL, June 21 — The chief U.S. nuclear envoy was making his first trip to North Korea on Thursday ahead of the expected resumption of talks on halting Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, the State Department said.
The surprise trip by Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill followed the resolution this week of a banking dispute that had held up progress toward disarma- ment for more than a year, and the announcement that U.N. nuclear monitors would visit the communist nation next week.
The trip is Hill’s first to North Korea, as well as the first by a U.S. nuclear envoy since the latest crisis with the North over its nuclear development began in late 2002.
Hill was to visit the North Korean capital for consultations Thursday and Friday “to move the process forward,” the State Department said in a statement.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, also told reporters in Tokyo that Hill would be visiting North Korea on Thursday. Shiozaki said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the visit with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso by telephone.
Earlier, Hill told reporters that the United States hopes the next round of negotiations will take up matters other than inspections of the North’s Yongbyon reactor and the banking dispute.