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North Korea edges toward new nuclear talks

UN undersecretary-general Lynn Pascoe said today that North Korea is 'not eager to return to six-party talks,' but others say Kim Jong-il appears ready for renewed dialogue.

UN political chief B. Lynn Pascoe (left) poses for a photo with Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, North Korea's parliament, before talks in Pyongyang, North Korea on Thursday.

APTN/AP

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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il appeared anxious to show China and the US that he’s open to dialogue as the reclusive North edged closer Friday to six-party talks on its nuclear weapons.

North Korea’s nuclear envoy, Kim Kye-gwan, returned from Beijing on Friday just as a top UN political official concluded a four-day visit to Pyongyang. Both missions look to analysts as unmistakable moves to resume six-party talks not held since December 2008.

“It looks like North Korea is paving the way to return to talks,” says Han Sung-joo, who has served as South Korea’s foreign minister and ambassador to Washington. “They want to do a favor to China, and they want to placate both the US and South Korea.”

The most obvious sign of that willingness were reports here that envoy Kim Kye-gwan is scheduled to fly next month to Washington, where he is expected to meet the US envoy on Korea, Stephen Bosworth, and other top officials.

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