Top U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill arrived in Pyongyang by car after crossing the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas on Wednesday morning, in a bid to discuss ways to salvage the faltering nuclear disarmament deal.
The official KCNA news agency said in a one-sentence report that the U. S. delegation led by Hill was here in Pyongyang Wednesday.
Hill told reporters upon arriving at an international airport of Seoul en route to Pyongyang on Tuesday that his visit will focus on the verification issue and reiterated that Washington was ready to remove Pyongyang from a terrorism blacklist, which blocks some U.S. and multilateral aid, when verification procedures are agreed to, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
Hill met with South Korea's nuclear envoy Kim Sook on Tuesday in Seoul and expected the DPRK to agree on a verification protocol soon, the AFP said.
It was Hill's third visit to the DPRK, with the earlier visits made in June and December last year.
The DPRK agreed in February 2007 in talks with the United States, Japan, China, Russia and South Korea to disable the Yongbyon facilities in exchange for economic aid and political concessions, including removal from the terrorism list. It began disabling its facilities in November and in June blew up a cooling tower in a display of its determination to carry out the process.
But the deal ran aground in late July when Washington delayed Pyongyang's removal from the terrorism list until the DPRK agreed to verification.
Pyongyang protested, saying verification was never part of the pact, and stopped disabling the plant in mid-August. On September 19, the DPRK announced it had begun the work to restore its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon.
Speaking at the 63rd U.N. General Assembly on September 27, Pak Kil Yon, vice-minister of foreign affairs of the DPRK, said that it was the steadfast stand of the DPRK government to settle the nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue and negotiations.
"To denuclearize the Korean Peninsula is the behest of President Kim Il Sung," Pak said, "The DPRK will as ever make all its sincere efforts to denuclearize the whole peninsula, but never allow any attempt to hurt its dignity and pride and infringe upon its sovereignty."