WASHINGTON The United States said Friday that top U.S. and North Korean nuclear negotiators will meet Tuesday in Singapore to try to advance deadlocked talks meant to rid the North of its nuclear weapons.
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will hold the talks with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye Gwan, State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters. It was not immediately clear exactly where and what time the officials would meet.
The talks come as international efforts to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons remain stalled over the North's pledge to declare all its nuclear programs for eventual dismantlement. Washington says North Korea has not yet provided a full declaration.
Casey said that the U.S. does not anticipate any final resolution to the matter at the meeting. But he said it was an important step in moving the process forward.
The U.S. does not expect Hill will "be coming home with a declaration in his briefcase," Casey said. "Certainly we hope to make continued progress on it, but I am not led to believe that there is any reason to suspect that this is a decisive point in those discussions."
The meeting, however, will be an important face-to-face session after recent angry gestures by the North since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in February with pledges to get tough on the North and hold it accountable to its commitments to roll back its nuclear programs.
North Korea also has threatened to turn South Korea to "ashes" in a pre-emptive strike, responding to remarks by South Korea's top military officer that Seoul could target suspected North Korean nuclear sites if there were signs of a pending atomic attack.