BEIJING – Diplomats from the United States and North Korean met Wednesday on the sidelines of six-nation talks about Pyongyang's nuclear program, a South Korean official said. He said North Korea (search) appeared "willing to resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue."
The meeting lasted about a half hour, said Wie Sung-rak, director-general at the South Korean Foreign Ministry's North American Affairs Bureau. It ended a diplomatic drought between the two nations, at odds for months over North Korea's nuclear program and American demands that it cease.
"The U.S. side made comments about easing North Korea's security concerns, but I cannot give you any more details," Wie said. "From what North Koreans said during the meeting, we could read that North Korea is willing to resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue."
He added: "The meeting came naturally as part of the sideline activities."
He had no information about whether any breakthroughs were made.
The meeting was the first concrete sign of progress in six-nation talks designed to resolve the disagreement over the nuclear program — and to ensure security for the East Asian region. China, Russia, Japan and South Korea are also participating in the meetings, which last until Friday.
For months, the North Korean government had demanded one-on-one talks with the United States, but dropped its objections to the multilateral arrangement after Beijing — a longtime Pyongyang ally and communist neighbor — agreed to host it.