Chief U.S. nuclear negotiator to visit South Korea

The top U.S. nuclear negotiator will visit South Korea next week for talks on how to resume stalled six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

During a two-day trip starting May 25, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will meet with South Korean officials and "plans to discuss important issues between South Korea and the United States, including the six-party talks," Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon told reporters.

Hill's visit comes after the United States announced earlier this week plans to restore full diplomatic relations with Libya and remove it from a list of terrorism sponsors as a reward for renouncing weapons of mass destruction and cooperating in the hunt for terrorists.

Libya's case "is an example that shows there is a brighter future when one gives up" weapons of mass destruction, Ban said.

"Our government will urge North Korea to realize that there will be a brighter and better future for them if they give up nuclear weapons and return to the six-party talks soon for prompt resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue," he said.

Nuclear talks were last held in November, when negotiators made no progress toward implementing a September agreement in which the North agreed to give up its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

Pyongyang has refused to return to negotiations until Washington lifts financial restrictions it imposed on the communist nation for alleged illegal activity such as counterfeiting.

The United States says the North should return without conditions, and has increasingly pressured the North over its poor human rights record, a move analysts say may be aimed at pushing it to resume the nuclear negotiations.

Despite the latest spat, the United States remained committed to resolving the North Korea nuclear issue peacefully through the disarmament talks, which also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea, Ban said, reports the AP.


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