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Report: Senior N. Korea Official Leaves for U.S. Talks

A senior North Korean diplomat left Tuesday for rare talks in the United States, a media report said, amid efforts to restart stalled negotiations on scrapping the North's nuclear programs.

First vice foreign minister Kim Kye-Gwan left Beijing Tuesday morning en route for New York, South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a Seoul diplomatic source as saying.

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S. Korea Rules Out Rapid Progress with North

South Korea's foreign minister Monday ruled out any quick and rapid progress in relations with North Korea despite unexpected talks last week between their nuclear envoys.

Kim Sung-Hwan said the talks between South Korean envoy Wi Sung-Lac and his counterpart Ri Yong-Ho in Indonesia on the sidelines of an Asian security forum "opened the gate" for ties.

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N. Korea Envoy to Visit U.S. for Nuclear Talks, Says Clinton

The United States said Sunday it has invited a top North Korean envoy to New York for "exploratory talks" on the possible resumption of the six-party negotiations on denuclearization.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the North's vice foreign minister and former nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye-Gwan, would visit the U.S. at the "end of next week".

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U.S., SKorea and Japan Say Pyongyang Must Address Nuke Program before Talks

The United States said Saturday it was "encouraged" by surprise talks between North and South Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear program, but remained cool on resuming disarmament talks.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told regional foreign ministers at an Asian security forum in Indonesia that the onus remained squarely on the North to prove its sincerity before the stalled six-party talks could resume.

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S. Korea Says North’s Strong Control on People can Avert Uprising

North Korea is grappling with an unfavorable situation but the regime's tight grip on its people will prevent any Arab-style uprising, South Korea's defense minister said Wednesday.

"The state of affairs in the North is indeed inauspicious and anything can happen there," Kim Kwan-Jin told a forum, without elaborating.

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Report: N. Korea Bribed Pakistan for Nuclear Secrets

The architect of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program claims North Korea paid bribes to senior Pakistani military officials in return for nuclear secrets in the 1990s, the Washington Post said Wednesday.

The Post said documents released by nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan purportedly show him helping to transfer more than $3 million to senior officers, who he says then, approved the leak of nuclear know-how to Pyongyang.

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North Korea Threatens 'Sacred War' on South

North Korea threatened on Wednesday to launch "a retaliatory sacred war" against South Korea for alleged slander as the two sides held rare talks on a stalled joint tourism project.

A Pyongyang government spokesman accused the South's front line army units of displaying slogans slandering the North's "army, system and dignity" and said they are "little short of a clear declaration of war".

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U.S. Commander: N. Korea Likely to Launch More Attacks

The U.S. commander in South Korea said Monday that North Korea is likely to launch more military attacks against the South, but Seoul and Washington are better prepared to counter the threat.

"While the Kim (Jong-Il) regime has proven a willingness to escalate in order to obtain what it wants, I am convinced that the ROK (South Korea)-U.S. alliance is prepared," General Walter Sharp told a forum.

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S.Korean Soldiers Fire at Asiana Passenger Jet 'by Mistake'

South Korean troops fired at a passenger jet flying from China with 119 people on board after mistaking it for a North Korean aircraft, amid increasingly fraught relations on the divided peninsula.

Soldiers manning a guard post on Gyodong Island, just 1.7 kilometers south of the North Korean coast, fired their K-2 rifles on Friday towards the plane, descending as it approached Seoul's Incheon International Airport.

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S. Korea Refuses to Return N. Korea Refugees

South Korean authorities Friday rejected North Korea's demand to send back nine refugees from the communist state, an issue that could further chill frosty relations.

The three men, two women and four children crossed the Yellow Sea border last Saturday in two small boats, with the North's Red Cross warning Thursday that relations could worsen unless the South immediately sends them back.

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