South Korea's top nuclear envoy travelled to the US today for talks on how to convince North Korea to return to stalled international disarmament negotiations.
Wi Sung-lac said his trip would focus on possible direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang as a way to resume broader six-nation nuclear talks involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan.
North Korea has been insisting on one-on-one negotiations after it pulled out of the six-party talks to protest at international criticism of its rocket launch.
Washington, which had strictly demanded the North first return to the six-party talks, is now considering direct talks as part of its efforts to restart the six-party process.
On Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il reportedly expressed willingness to engage in "bilateral and multilateral talks", an indication the country could rejoin the six-party process.
Mr Wi's office said the envoy would accompany officials attending the UN General Assembly and meet US officials to discuss the resumption of the six-party talks.
On Friday North Korea's state media said the country had dispatched a delegation led by Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil Yon to the UN General Assembly.