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No plans for fresh N.Korea talks: US envoy

The United States and North Korea have no plans for follow-up talks on resolving a nuclear impasse, a senior US envoy said in Beijing on Saturday after ice-breaking meetings this week in Pyongyang.

world Updated: Dec 12, 2009 10:51 IST

The United States and North Korea have no plans for follow-up talks on resolving a nuclear impasse, a senior US envoy said in Beijing on Saturday after ice-breaking meetings this week in Pyongyang.

Stephen Bosworth arrived in China late Friday as part of a lightning tour to brief officials in the countries involved in stalled denuclearisation talks with North Korea about his meeting in Pyongyang.

While reiterating that talks with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-Ju and top nuclear envoy Kim Kye-Gwan were "very constructive", Bosworth noted: "We have not talked about the possibility of another bilateral meeting."

Bosworth's three-day visit to the North was the first official contact between Washington and Pyongyang since President Barack Obama took office in January pledging direct diplomacy with US adversaries.

The two sides agreed on the need to resume the six-party nuclear disarmament negotiations hosted by China but did not set a date. Bosworth said that issue "remains to be resolved". "That is something that we will be watching and waiting for," he said.

The US envoy described his talks with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi as "extremely productive and cordial meetings". "We agreed that it is essential that the five parties in the six-party talks continue to work to maintain unity of purpose and unity of where we are in terms of our position," he said.

The six-party forum groups the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and hosts China.

In April, angry at international censure of its long-range rocket launch, the North declared the six-party talks "dead". It later said it had resumed making weapons-grade plutonium.

In May it staged its second nuclear test since 2006 and followed up with missile launches in July, attracting tougher UN sanctions.

In October, the North told key ally China it was ready to return to the talks, but only if direct dialogue with the United States proved satisfactory.

Bosworth confirmed that beyond the nuclear issue, the two sides had discussed the normalisation of relations, as well as an eventual peace pact, but said those talks fell within the six-party framework.

"We talked about all of those issues... these are all issues to which all six parties are committed to have negotiations and discussions on," the US envoy told reporters. "As far as the immediate future is concerned, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has noted, this may be a time to exercise a bit of 'strategic patience'," he added.

Bosworth, who visited Seoul immediately after his talks in Pyongyang, was to head from Beijing to Tokyo on Saturday, and then on to Moscow.