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Korean North-South Talks End Without Progress

The two Koreas concluded their first face-to-face talks in 10 months Thursday without making any progress on the impasse over the North's nuclear program, although they did agree to hold Cabinet-level talks next month.

The agreement was announced as word emerged of a secret meeting last week between U.S. and North Korean officials.

The focus of both efforts was to get Pyongyang (search) to rejoin six-nation talks on getting it to abandon its nuclear program, but the reclusive communist country — which regularly uses brinksmanship to wring aid from the West — clearly resisted any public commitment.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said American officials met with North Korean officials in New York last week.

"This channel is used to convey messages about U.S. policy, not to negotiate," an embassy official said on condition of anonymity.

The meeting was first reported in The Boston Globe on Thursday.

A statement issued after the two-day meeting between the Koreas ended Thursday said both nations agreed to work for peace on the Korean Peninsula. It said a follow-up Cabinet-level meeting would be held June 21-24 in Seoul (search), and South Korea would begin providing 200,000 tons of fertilizer to the North starting May 21.

Seoul also will send a delegation, led by a government minister, to Pyongyang in June for the fifth anniversary of a historic summit between the two rivals.

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