Top North Korean Nuclear Envoy Seeks to Visit US

A top North Korean nuclear envoy wants to visit the United States for rare talks next month, news reports said Saturday, amid a push by diplomats to revive negotiations on ending Pyongyang's nuclear program. Officials in Washington said no such trip was planned.

North Korea is strongly pushing for Kim Kye Gwan's trip to the United States in March, but the U.S. has not authorized a visa for him, South Korea 's Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported, citing unidentified diplomatic sources, The Associated Press reports.

According to Voice of America, UN under-secretary-general for political affairs Lynn Pascoe said Friday he spent four days in Pyongyang having "useful talks" with senior members of the North Korean government, including top official Kim Yong-Nam.

But, Pascoe revealed that North Korea is not eager to return to six-party talks. "The attitude right now as I said is they are not happy with the sanctions and they were certainly not eager - not ruling out but certainly not eager - to return to the Six Party Talks, so we'll see where that comes," he said.

The United States said it was not in talks with North Korea about a visit and there were no plans for one "at this point."

U.N. sanctions and a botched currency move that nearly halted commerce late last year have increased pressure on the destitute North to return to talks, to win aid to prop up its wobbly economy by reducing its security threat.

Kim's visit to China coincided with an unusually busy week of diplomatic activity for the reclusive North that included high-profile visits by envoys from China and the United Nations, and leader Kim Jong-il reiterating he wanted a peninsula free of nuclear weapons.

"Their attitude right now is, certainly they're not happy with sanctions," Lynn Pascoe, U.N. Under-secretary general for political affairs, told reporters in Beijing.

"They're certainly not eager, not ruling out, but not eager to return to six-party talks," Reuters informs.

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