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U.S. envoy optimistic on N. Korea talks after his visit

June 22, 2007|From the Associated Press

SEOUL — U.S. envoy Christopher Hill wrapped up a surprise trip to North Korea today, expressing satisfaction about his talks on moving forward with international efforts to halt the country's nuclear program.

"We had a good discussion about the way forward at the six-party talks," Hill said before his departure from Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

He gave no specifics but said that "we discussed all aspects of the six-party process," referring to the participants in talks on the nuclear program: both Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Hill said he met with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan and Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun.

The Bush administration initially preferred to meet the North with regional powers China and Japan. But Washington has been moving away from that limitation, holding meetings on the sidelines of summits.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed suggestions that the trip could give the impression that North Korea had the upper hand in the nuclear negotiations or signaled a new direction in U.S. policy.

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