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US and North Korea to hold talks in Beijing

US and North Korean officials will meet in Beijing to discuss Pyongyang's nuclear program.

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This undated handout picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on February 9, 2012 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) inspecting the Command of Large Combined Unit 324 of the Korean People's Army at undisclosed place in North Korea. AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS (KNS/AFP/Getty Images)

In a press briefing today, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters that US officials will be meeting with a North Korean delegation in Beijing on Feb. 23.

Nuland said that Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies will lead a team to meet with a North Korean team led by First Vice Minister Kim Kye Gwan, in an effort to continue dialogue on the Six-Party talks and steps towards North Korea’s denuclearization.

The talks will be the first such meeting since the death of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il, and the third round of bilateral talks since last summer, said the Associated Press. The bilateral talks are aimed at restarting negotiations for an aid-for-disarmament program that North Korea pulled out of in 2009.

More on GlobalPost: North Korea: Aid for nuclear deal?

CNN said that Washington hopes the new regime expresses a desire to negotiate and address international concerns about the nuclear program. Kim Jong Il’s death came at a time when the US was planning to renew diplomacy with North Korea.

The Wall Street Journal said the State Department was close to an agreement to resume talks last fall, before Kim Jong Il’s death, and Kim Jong Un’s ascension to the leadership has made progress uncertain.

Nuland said, “We thought that it was a good time to see where they are, and it makes good sense to give them an opportunity to see if they are ready to answer the questions that we have,” according to Voice of America.

More on GlobalPost: Got drones? North Korea does

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/120213/us-and-north-korea-hold-talks-beijing