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North begins informal talks in Oslo with U.S. experts

May 10,2017
OSLO - North Korean officials began informal talks Monday with a group of American experts in Oslo, Norway, amid speculation that Washington may seek dialogue with Pyongyang, diplomatic sources said.

It’s their first track 2 meeting in half a year. The previous session was held in Geneva, Switzerland.

“It’s my understanding that dialogue between North Korean government officials and U.S. civilian experts opened today (Monday) in a suburb of Oslo and will continue through tomorrow,” a source here said.

The North Korean delegation is reportedly led by Choe Son-hui, director-general of the North America bureau of the communist nation’s foreign ministry. Her counterpart is Suzanne DiMaggio, director and senior fellow at New America, a think tank based in Washington D.C., according to another source.

This week’s meeting comes amid a let-up in military tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The North did not conduct a nuclear test or a long-range rocket launch in April despite a view that it may take such a provocative act to mark a series of key political events in the month.

In South Korea, its people are about to pick their new president, with expectations running high over a change of mood in inter-Korean ties that have long been frosty.

The U.S. State Department would not attach any special meaning to the track 2 dialogue, which is held semi-regularly.

But North Korea watchers took note of the timing of the meeting this time, saying it may provide the two sides with a chance for sort of “exploratory” talks.

U.S. President Donald Trump often talks tough about North Korea, emphasizing the need to put more pressure on the Kim Jong-un regime.

He recently said, however, he would meet Kim “under the right circumstances.”

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump said in a Bloomberg interview earlier this month.

Yonhap