NEW YORK (Reuters) - A delegation of North Korean officials in New York have indicated there will be “continuity” in the secretive state following the death in December of long-time leader Kim Jong-il, a former senior State Department official said on Saturday.
A North Korean delegation, led by Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, met on Saturday for some six hours with the National Committee on American Foreign Policy think tank. In a news conference following the meeting, Evans Revere, a former senior U.S. diplomat in South Korea who participated in the meeting, said he was heartened by the informal talks.
Revere said there appeared to be a “strong strand of continuity” in the unpredictable North Asian country, which is also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“It suggests that the DPRK is not going off into some unpredictable or odd direction,” Revere said.
The meeting came 10 days after North Korea - now led by Kim Jung-il’s son, Kim Jong-un - agreed with the United States to suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests and uranium enrichment at a nuclear facility, and to allow nuclear inspectors back.
At the same time Washington pledged to resume food aid.
The two sides have held nuclear talks on-and-off for nearly two decades, but relations hit a low in 2009 when the North conducted a second nuclear test and a long-range missile launch. Washington imposed sanctions, and Pyongyang walked out of regional denuclearization talks.
The U.S. think tank has no standing to negotiate with North Korea, and it described the meeting as a non-binding “exchange of views.” The North Korean delegation was not present at the news conference.
Reporting By Edith Honan; editing by Mohammad Zargham