N. Korea, US had informal New York meeting in July: sources
Senior North Korean and U.S. diplomats had at least one informal meeting in New York last month to check each other's position after months-long dormancy in their nuclear talks, sources here said Sunday.
However, there was no breakthrough from the meeting between Clifford Hart, the U.S. special envoy for the six-party talks, and Han Song-ryol, North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, with neither side deviating from their previous stance, added the sources.
"I know that there was informal contact recently between North Korea and the U.S., although no exact date is available," an informed diplomatic source told Yonhap News Agency. "But (the outcome) was no more than checking each other's position."
The source said the so-called New York channel is virtually the only communication channel between Pyongyang and Washington and it is always open in a sense.
Representatives from the U.S. and North Korea exchange messages over phone or through face-to-face contact if needed, the source said.
Japan's Kyodo News Service also reported earlier in the day that Hart and Han met in July at North Korea's U.N. representative office in New York.
In the meeting, North Korea criticized the U.S. for suspending a plan to ship 240,000 tons of food aid, Kyodo said, quoting its own sources "familiar with bilateral ties."
The U.S. reiterated that it was Pyongyang which broke the Feb. 29 deal with a long-range rocket launch in April, according to Kyodo.
Under the agreement reached in high-level talks, Pyongyang agreed to impose a moratorium on some of its nuclear and missile activities in return for the resumption of food assistance.
The July meeting would mark the first known contact between the two sides since North Korea's most recent rocket launch.
The U.S. neither confirms nor denies any specific contact with North Korea through the New York channel.
In a highly unusual move, the State Department disclosed at a daily press briefing in December that its official had a phone conversation with his North Korean counterpart in New York soon after the secretive regime announced the death of leader Kim Jong-il.
Another source told Yonhap that such a New York channel contact itself is not special and it would be difficult for Pyongyang and Washington to resume formal dialogue before the U.S. presidential elections in early November. (Yonhap)