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Key meeting could hasten N. Korea talks

Associated Press

TOKYO – A meeting in New York between U.S. and North Korean officials has increased chances of a resumption of six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programs, a Japanese official said today.

The talks stalled almost a year ago. Since then, North Korea has declared it has atomic bombs, claiming they were a deterrent against a possible attack by the U.S.

The United States met Monday with North Korea on halting its nuclear weapons program, and Washington withdrew a threat to try to punish North Korea with U.N. sanctions. The meeting was requested by North Korea, a U.S. official said.

“Judging from their amount of recent contacts, it is progress, and we hope it would lead to a resumption of the six-way talks,” said Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda.

Japanese leaders have voiced optimism that North Korea is warming to the idea of resuming the talks, which it has been boycotting. Hosoda, however, said that North Korea has not yet pledged to return to discussions with the United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

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