North Korean official to go to U.S. for nuclear talks

The North’s reasons for returning to the talks include a need to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough and outside aid ahead of the 2012 centennial of the birth of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung.

South Korea’s government is seen as being eager not to be blamed for leaving the disarmament talks suspended. Analysts say the government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak may want to report progress before it leaves office in early 2013.

South Korea and the U.S. say North Korea must demonstrate a commitment to abandoning its nuclear programs. Seoul has demanded a show of regret for the deadly sinking of one of its warships a year ago that the South blames on a North Korean torpedo, and for a North Korean artillery attack on a front-line island in November that killed four South Koreans.

The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953. The United States has 28,500 troops in the South. That presence is cited by the North as a main factor behind its need to build a nuclear program.

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Klug reported from Seoul, South Korea.

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Online:

State Department background on North Korea: http://www.state.gov/p/eap/ci/kn/

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