U.S. gov’t dismisses rare talks involving N.K. diplomats as ‘Track 2’ meeting

The United States on Sunday dismissed recent talks between North Korean diplomats and former U.S. government officials as a private "Track 2" meeting taking place without the involvement of the U.S. government.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol and the North's U.N. Ambassador Jang Il-hun held the two days of talks with former U.S. nuclear negotiators Robert Gallucci and Joseph DeTrani, and Asian affairs expert Leon Sigal in Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur on Friday and Saturday.

The rare meetings drew intense media attention as they could signal Pyongyang's willingness to reopen negotiations with the United States amid heightened tensions in the wake of its fifth nuclear test and a series of missile launches.

But the U.S. government dismissed the talks as an unofficial "Track 2" contact.

"We have seen the reporting on Track 2 meetings. Track 2 meetings are routinely held on a variety of topics around the world and occur independent of U.S. government involvement," State Department spokeswoman Anna Richey-Allen said.

Sigal told Yonhap News that the two sides mainly discussed the North's nuclear and missile issues.

The North stuck to its stance that it wants to sign a peace treaty with the U.S. before it stops its nuclear and missile programs. But the U.S. side reiterated its position that scrapping the nuclear program should be put before anything else, Sigal said.

Drawing his own conclusions that there was partial progress in the informal meetings, he said he expects no official dialogue with the North to take place under the Obama administration, but that a new U.S. government needs to reconsider policies toward the North.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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