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Senior U.S. diplomat urges DPRK to mend ties with S. Korea

(Xinhua)

08:24, January 06, 2012

SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Kurt Campbell on Thursday called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to improve ties with South Korea.

"We believe an essential component in an improving relationship with North Korea (DPRK) and the international community has to be an improvement in North-South relations," Campbell told reporters after a meeting with South Korean foreign minister Kim Sung-hwan.

Tension remains between the former wartime enemies following the two deadly border incidents in 2010, which killed 50 South Koreans and prompted Seoul authorities to suspend nearly all exchanges with Pyongyang.

"We believe that ultimately an improving relationship between the North and the South is essential going forward," he said. South Korea and the United States are continuously monitoring developments in the DPRK following its top leader Kim Jong Il's sudden death in December, the diplomat said, adding the two countries "face the new leadership transition" in Pyongyang.

He is hoping to host a trilateral meeting involving South Korea, the United States and Japan over DPRK issues "at an early date", the diplomat said.

The remarks came after Campbell, who arrived here a day ago following a China trip, met earlier in the day with Lim Sung-nam, Seoul's chief envoy to stalled six-party talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear program.

The two discussed the state of affairs in the DPRK after the demise of its leader and ways to resume the six-party negotiations, which also involve China, Japan and Russia.

The DPRK unilaterally quit the disarmament-for-aid talks in 2009, but has expressed its wish to return to the negotiating table. The last round of the talks was held in December 2008.

Campbell is scheduled to leave for Japan on Friday.

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