October 18, 2010 09:41
North Korea has invited several American North Korea experts in a bid to engineer talks with the U.S. government, VOA reported last Friday.
Susan Shirk, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, and Tony Namgoong, an assistant to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, visited the North last month, and at least four more private groups will travel to the Stalinist country by late next month, the radio said.
Jack Pritchard, the president of the Korea Economic Institute of America, and Siegfried Hecker, the co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, will lead delegations to Pyongyang. Joel Witt of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies is also planning to visit the North. Namgoong will travel to the North again next month, VOA quoted diplomatic sources as saying.
Pritchard, the U.S. special envoy to the North during the George W. Bush administration, visited in November last year as head of a Korea policy task force of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations and relayed the North's desire for talks on a peace treaty with the U.S.
Hecker, who was the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Witt, a former State Department official in charge of North Korean affairs, have also been to the North several times.
A diplomatic source said, "The North is sending a signal that it wants to resume talks with the U.S. government. As it did in the past, the North will deliver its views on issues such as the nuclear program through private experts."
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