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U.S. official to visit Moscow, Berlin, no plans to meet North Koreans

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The lead U.S. official on North Korea will travel to Russia and Germany next week for talks with Russian and German diplomats about the reclusive state but has no plans to meet with North Korean officials, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.

North Korea in February conducted its third nuclear test and in December launched a rocket that put a satellite into orbit, developments that, with Iran's nuclear program, led the Pentagon on Friday to announce plans to bolster U.S. missile defence.

While experts say North Korea is years away from being able to hit the continental United States with a nuclear weapon, its fiery rhetoric and aggressive testing have increased tensions with the United States and U.S. allies South Korea and Japan.

Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, will be in Moscow on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss North Korea with officials including Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, the State Department said in a statement.

He will be in Berlin from Wednesday to Friday to meet with officials including Peter Prügel, the German foreign ministry's director-general for Asian and Pacific affairs, and Deputy National Security Adviser Michael Flügger, the statement added.

Asked if she could categorically rule out the possibility of Davies meeting with North Korean officials while he is travelling, a State Department spokeswoman said: "Ambassador Davies has no plans to meet with the North Koreans during his upcoming trip."

U.S. and North Korean officials have in the past used Berlin as a meeting point for negotiations but talks seem unlikely at the moment given Pyongyang's recent nuclear test.

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Eric Beech)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130315/us-official-visit-moscow-berlin-no-plans-meet-north-koreans