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Mr. Hill’s trip had been approved not only by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but by President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Mr. Cheney has been skeptical of Miss Rice’s accommodating approach to North Korea.

Mr. McCormack said Mr. Hill flew to Pyongyang yesterday morning on a U.S. government plane from Tokyo.

The envoy held talks with his counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan. Mr. McCormack said Mr. Hill would meet with Kim Jong-il if such a visit could be arranged.