US and North Korean officials met in China today to discuss nuclear policy in negotiations closely watched for signs of change to the position taken by former leader Kim Jong Il, who died two months ago, the Associated Press reported.
The discussions, held in China and set to continue Friday, also touched on US aid and other key issues.
The Associated Press quoted US envoy Glyn Davies as describing today's talks in Bejing as "substantive and serious."
The death of Kim on December 17, which brought his son Kim Jong-un to power, threw a loop in ongoing talks over a deal that would see Pyongyang suspend its nuclear enrichment program in exchange for food aid provided by the US.
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Western powers have long been trying to coax North Korea, a nuclear power since 2006, into disarmament talks.
Kim Jong-un has said he will continue his father’s policies.
Aims by the international community to discourage the country's ongoing nuclear activities, such as the six-nation talks suggested by the US, South Korea, Japan, Russia and China, have not been successful.
Davies, who formerly served as the US ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, was expected to push Pyongyang to halt enrichment and return to the six-party talks, The New York Times reported.
The proposed six-nation talks date back to 2003, but officials hope for renewed interest from North Korea's new leader, said The New York Times.
Pyongyang on Wednesday denounced an upcoming international nuclear security summit to be hosted by South Korea -- a country with whom North Korea is still technically at war -- as an "intolerable grave provocation" and a "childish farce," according to Reuters.
South Korea was requiring that North Korea renounce its nuclear program in order to attend the event, which is being attended by dozens of world leaders, including US President Barack Obama.
Last year a US official was shown an industrial scale uranium enrichment facility in North Korea, revealing significant enrichment capability, reported The New York Times.