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NKorea expresses openness to nuke talks

North Korea have expressed willingness to move forward with long-stalled denuclearisation talks and have downplayed recent reports that the regime is preparing to test-fire a long-range missile, a former US diplomat said.

world Updated: Feb 07, 2009 22:00 IST

North Korean officials have expressed willingness to move forward with long-stalled denuclearisation talks and have downplayed recent reports that the regime is preparing to test-fire a long-range missile, a former US diplomat said on Saturday after a private visit to Pyongyang.

The message given to former envoy Stephen Bosworth was in contrast to North Korea's increasingly belligerent rhetoric recently. Over the past few weeks, Pyongyang has announced it would scrap peace agreements with South Korea, warned the divided peninsula was on the brink of war and appeared to be preparing to test a missile capable of reaching the western United States.

Bosworth, the former US ambassador to South Korea and now an academic, said the officials he met with kept an upbeat tone regarding the nuclear talks and a willingness to talk to President Barack Obama's administration.

"We can continue to work towards eventual denuclearisation of Korean peninsula," Bosworth said after arriving at Beijing's international airport. "They understand that Obama administration will need some time to sort itself through the policy review and they expressed patience, there is no sense of alarm or urgency."

Bosworth, currently the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University in the US state of Massachusetts, said the delegation of academics he was traveling with expressed concern about the alleged missile launch plans.