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Albright reports some progress in talks with North Korea's Kim
PYONGYANG, North Korea (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has "gotten a green light" from North Korea to discuss restraints on that country's missile program, senior department officials said on Tuesday after a second round of talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
Albright, the first U.S. Cabinet member to visit a country with which the United States remains technically at war, met with Kim for six hours over the last two days. Her visit coincides with the celebration of North Korea's 55th anniversary.
"We have a moratorium on testing of all long-range missiles and we obviously are continuing these very serious missile discussions," Albright told reporters. "I take what he said on these issues as serious in terms of his desire and ours to move forward to resolve the various questions that continue to exist on the whole range of missile issues."
She said that Kim had "quipped" during a Monday night event that North Korea had conducted its first and last satellite launch in August 1998, when North Korea sparked an international furor by launching a Taepo Dong ballistic missile that flew over Japanese territory.
"Indeed, during the October 23 mass performance we attended together, an image of the DPRK Taepo Dong missile appeared," said Albright. "He (Kim) immediately turned to me and quipped that this was the first satellite launch and it would be the last."
North Korean officials said the launch was part of a successful satellite launch, and that the first stage of the rocket crashed into the Sea of Japan between Russia and northwestern Japan. U.S. officials said that intelligence reports indicated the launch was both an attempt to launch a satellite -- which failed -- and a ballistic missile test.
More talks to come
A senior State Department official said that in more serious talks, Kim appeared willing to discuss restrictions on North Korea's missile program, including curbs on the research, export and testing of missiles.
During an earlier visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kim suggested that Korea might halt its missile program if Western nations, including the United States, offered to launch North Korea's satellite.
At a news conference, Albright said there had been "progress" in the talks but that much work remained to be done. Lower-level missile experts, she said, will follow up on her talks with Kim in further meetings in Pyongyang during the next week.
After her trip, Albright will make a recommendation to U.S. President Bill Clinton on whether he should visit North Korea, aides have said.
Albright, North Korea's Kim Jong Il hold second meeting
U.S. State Department
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