A senior North Korean nuclear negotiator plans to visit the United States this month at a time when the two countries are trying to resume stalled disarmament talks.
The State Department approved a rare visa for Ri Gun to attend a private security forum in California, Kim Myong Gil, a minister at North Korea's United Nations mission in New York, told The Associated Press yesterday.
A U.S. official said Ri, the director general of American affairs at North Korea's Foreign Ministry, would likely discuss nuclear matters with a senior U.S. diplomat while he was in the United States. The U.S. official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic contact.
State Department spokesman Robert Wood confirmed that the department intends to authorize visas for Ri Gun and a North Korean delegation to attend conferences.
Wood said Ri was invited to participate in the Northeast Asia Cooperative Dialogue at the University of California, San Diego, and in a New York seminar hosted by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and the Korea Society.