US and North Korea start talks in Geneva

AFP , Monday 24 Oct 2011

Officials keep expectations low for talks aimed at managing tensions on the Korean peninsula

US and North Korean negotiators began a two-day meeting in Geneva on Monday, the second such encounter since six-party talks on disarmament collapsed more than two years ago.

"Talks have started. They are in the room and talking," a U.S. official said outside the American embassy in Geneva where the two sides were meeting.

The two delegations, which are staying at the same Geneva lakeside luxury hotel, arrived separately by car. Monday's session was expected to run until midday when the two sides break to have lunch separately, and resume at 2 pm (1200 GMT).

The session, which follows talks in New York in late July, is aimed more at managing tensions on the divided Korean peninsula than resuming regional talks on ending the North's nuclear programmes.

US officials and analysts were keeping expectations low this week, despite a recent slight easing of tensions between American ally South Korea and North Korea, and Pyongyang's repeated calls for resuming nuclear talks.

The six-party talks, including North Korea's ally China as well as Russia, Japan and South Korea, fell apart in 2009 when North Korea quit the process after UN sanctions were imposed following its second nuclear test.

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