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North Korean Official Calls For Talks With U.S.

11 February 2005 -- A top North Korean diplomat is quoted as saying Pyongyang wants bilateral negotiations with the United States as a condition for returning to six-party talks on its nuclear program.

South Korea's "Hankyoreh" newspaper quoted Han Sung Ryo, deputy chief of North Korea's UN mission in New York, as saying Pyongyang would view such a development positively.

The United States has rejected previous demands for bilateral talks.

North Korea yesterday said it is withdrawing from six-way talks with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States on its nuclear program, and announced it now possesses nuclear weapons.

China, South Korea, Russia, and Australia today joined worldwide calls for North Korea to reconsider.

(compiled from wire reports)