US, North Korea officials met secretly: Report

North Korean soldiers look to the South as they patrol at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone separating North Korea from South Korea, March 19, 2013.
A report says a US official ‘secretly’ met with the North Korean deputy ambassador to the UN in the United States in mid-March amid tension on the Korean Peninsula.

The CNN reported on Wednesday that Clifford Hart, who is the US envoy for six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, met with Han Song-ryol in New York in mid-March.

In the meeting the US official called for North Korea to refrain from taking ‘provocative actions,’ the report said, adding that Washington had also urged Pyongyang to return to diplomacy. However, nothing came of the meeting and US officials made no new offers.

The meeting was described as part of the so-called New York channel that is a method of direct communication between the US and North Korea.

White House spokesman Jay Carney has said that Washington has a “channel of communications with the North Koreans, and we utilize that channel.”

In March, the US and South Korea began joint military exercises that saw the controversial participation of the US nuclear-capable B-52 and B-2 stealth bombers.

On April 3, the Pentagon announced a decision to deploy an advanced anti-missile system to the Pacific island of Guam to protect the US military bases and the 6,000 American military personnel there.

The moves promoted Pyongyang to step up its war rhetoric and move two medium-range Musudan missiles to its eastern coast.

The North Korean army on April 4 said it had received permission to launch preemptive ‘nuclear’ strikes on the US.


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