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US brushes off North Korea's overtures

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The government freed two American TV journalists whom it had detained, along with five South Korean citizens, it restarted talks with South Korea on reunification of families divided by the Korean war, and normalized traffic into an industrial park run jointly with the South.

North Korean diplomats also traveled to Santa Fe in August to visit Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico who has taken special interest in relations with Pyongyang, apparently to press their case for direct bilateral talks with Washington.

The US special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, insisted repeatedly on his tour of Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo, which he wrapped up Tuesday, that the United States would hold bilateral talks, but only in the context of the six-party negotiations, which also include China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia.

North Korea pulled out of those negotiations in April, protesting international condemnation of its missile test. China, which leads the talks, and the US are seeking ways of restarting them.

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