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North Korean team leaves for talks with US

Update: February, 21/2012 - 11:59

SEOUL – North Korea's delegation left for talks about its nuclear programme with the United States on Tuesday, in what will be the first significant contact by the two sides since the death of leader Kim Jong-il.

The team headed by First Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan departed to attend "high-level talks" with the US, the state news agency said in a one-sentence report.

Kim will meet Glyn Davies, coordinator for US policy on North Korea, in Beijing on Thursday for discussions expected to provide clues about policy directions under Pyongyang's new leaders.

The bilateral meeting will be the third since last July. The two sides had been scheduled to meet in December but the plan was shelved after Kim's death on December 17.

Kim's youngest son Jong-Un has taken over but the administration has warned the world not to expect major policy changes.

The US and North Korea will discuss a possible resumption of six-nation talks on the North's nuclear disarmament which were last held in December 2008.

Pyongyang wants an unconditional return to dialogue. Washington says it must first show sincerity, for example by shutting down a uranium enrichment plant which could give it a second way to make atomic bombs. -- AFP

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