Report: US officials visited Pyongyang in August
SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- A White House delegation made a secret trip to North Korea in August in what might be an attempt to discourage it from taking provocative steps ahead of the U.S. presidential elections, a South Korean newspaper reported Thursday.
If confirmed, it would mark the second known visit by U.S. officials to Pyongyang this year, following the previous one before the North's rocket launch in April.
"A U.S. Air Force plane flew into Pyongyang through the Yellow Sea route after leaving Guam on Aug. 17," the Dong-A Ilbo quoted an unidentified diplomatic source as saying. "This jet stayed in Pyongyang for four days and flew out of the city on Aug. 20."
The source was quoted as adding it took the same route four months earlier.
Given such a relatively long journey, the newspaper said, the Barack Obama administration might have attempted "in-depth negotiations" with North Korea prior to the Nov. 6 elections.
"Chances are high that the U.S. sought to curb North Korea from taking military provocations and offered some measures in return," the source said, according to the daily.
It said the U.S. delegation included an official from the White House National Security Council but it could not identify the figure.
Those who were on board may include either White House Senior Director for Asian Affairs Daniel Russel or Sydney Seiler, Korea policy chief at the White House National Security Council, it added.
The White House would not confirm the report.
"I have no information to provide you," a White House spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency.
The U.S. government kept silent about reports that officials from the White House and intelligence authorities visited Pyongyang in April.
North Korea later confirmed through its state media that U.S. officials made the trip without revealing their names.