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High-Level Talks on North Korea Raise Hopes of Negotiations Renewal

U.S. soldiers stationed in South Korea practice nuclear decontamination skills in Yeoncheon in May. A flurry of high-level diplomatic talks on North Korea this week has renewed speculation the aid-for-denuclearization negotiations might be resumed  (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images). U.S. soldiers stationed in South Korea practice nuclear decontamination skills in Yeoncheon in May. A flurry of high-level diplomatic talks on North Korea this week has renewed speculation the aid-for-denuclearization negotiations might be resumed (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images).

A series of high-level meetings on Monday and Tuesday among participants of the frozen talks with North Korea has caused some observers to speculate the long-paralyzed nuclear negotiations could be resumed shortly, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

On Monday, U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy Glyn Davies hosted senior South Korean nuclear negotiator Cho Tae-yong in Washington for talks that focused on "fine-tuning" the two governments' positions on Pyongyang, according to the South Korean diplomat. The two men are to be joined on Tuesday by Japan's senior atomic envoy, Junichi Ihara for trilateral talks that will focus on the nuclear impasse with the North. Last week China's point person for Korean Peninsula issues, Wu Dawei, held talks in the U.S. capital with Davies and other senior Obama administration officials. Dawei was visiting Pyongyang on Monday, according to Yonhap.

The string of high-level contacts has caused some observers to speculate in media reports that the six-nation talks involving China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States could be restarted after a break of almost five years. However, an unidentified high-ranking Seoul official advised against being unduly optimistic.

"Media may expect an imminent, smooth birth," the source said. "But we are not there yet. We are going through labor pains, of which the ending time is hard to predict."

The chief bone of contention preventing the aid-for-denuclearization negotiations from being restarted is the demand by Washington, Seoul and Tokyo for Pyongyang to first offer a concrete demonstration of its commitment to irreversible nuclear disarmament. North Korea reportedly has offered in semiformal Track 1.5 talks to implement a moratorium on nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests but that offer is understood to not go far enough for the three allies.

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