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High ranking N. Korean official to visit Washington

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A top North Korean official will visit Washington next month in what is seen as yet another indication that his nation is ready for increased engagement with the United States.

After three days of talks between U.S. and North Korean officials in New York, the U.S. State Department announced Friday that Cho Myong Nok, the deputy to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, will visit Washington from Oct. 9 to Oct. 12.

The talks in New York centered on terrorism and nuclear weapons.

Cho, the first vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, will be the highest ranking North Korean government official ever to visit Washington.


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He is scheduled to meet with President Bill Clinton and State Department officials. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will act as Cho's host.

Missiles, terrorism on the agenda?

State Department officials told CNN they hope to make progress regarding what they say is the spread of North Korean missile technology to Iran and Pakistan. They also want to discuss perceived nuclear problems in North Korea.

Cho, for his part, is expected to seek Korea's removal from the State Department's list of terrorism-sponsoring nations.

Last month South Korean media reported that the North Korean leader was willing to open ties with the United States right away if it removed his country from the list.

North Korea is one of seven countries branded by the U.S. as a sponsor of terrorism. Under U.S. law, that bars all but humanitarian aid to the North's government and rules out bank loans from international financial organizations, which are heavily influenced by Washington.

U.S. officials say North Korea under Kim is moving away from the isolationist stance of his late father, Kim Il Sung, and has been trying to establish relations with Australia, Japan and South Korea.

CNN State Department Correspondent Andrea Koppel contributed to this story.

ASIANOW


RELATED STORIES:
U.S. wary of N. Korean military readiness
September 22, 2000
North Korea reportedly backs U.S military presence
September 11, 2000
U.S. delegation heading to Moscow for talks on North Korea
August 24, 2000
U.S. says North Korea missile proposal worth discussing
August 4, 2000

RELATED SITES:
U.S. State Department
Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)
Korean Information Service
South Korean government
North Korea: Politics and Government
North Korea
UniKorea


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