(Edited from AP, Seoul ) A senior U.N. envoy arrived in North Korea on Tuesday, the world body’s highest-level visit to the reclusive state in nearly six years, amid an international push to get it back to the nuclear negotiating table.

 

North Korea’s top nuclear envoy, Kim Kye Gwan, flew to Beijing earlier in the day to discuss nuclear talks with Chinese officials.

(Edited from AP, Seoul ) A senior U.N. envoy arrived in North Korea on Tuesday, the world body’s highest-level visit to the reclusive state in nearly six years, amid an international push to get it back to the nuclear negotiating table.

 

North Korea’s top nuclear envoy, Kim Kye Gwan, flew to Beijing earlier in the day to discuss nuclear talks with Chinese officials.

 

The flurry of diplomacy heightened speculation that there could be a breakthrough to jump-start the stalled talks to rid Pyongyang of its nuclear programs.

 

“This is a sign that the resumption of the six-party talks is imminent,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “Kim Kye Gwan is expected to tell Chinese officials about North Korea’s disarmament plan in a more concrete manner” — probably in return for aid from Beijing, he said.

 

U.N. political chief B. Lynn Pascoe was greeted by North Korean officials at an airport on the outskirts of the capital Pyongyang, according to footage broadcast by APTN in Pyongyang.

 

Pascoe said the aim of his visit was to find “ways we can cooperate better,” according to the footage. “So it should be quite useful we hope.”

 

Pascoe’s trip was the first there by a high-level U.N. official since 2004, according to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry. The envoy is reportedly bearing a letter from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

 

The four-day visit came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il renewed his country’s commitment to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula during a meeting with top Chinese Communist Party official Wang Jiarui.

 

North Korea walked away from the talks last year during a standoff over its nuclear and missile programs. The disarmament process includes the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States.

 

Pyongyang has been reaching out to Washington, Seoul and Beijing in recent months, and has taken tentative steps toward discussing how to get the process going again. Analysts say the about-face shows the regime is feeling the pinch from sanctions taken after its May nuclear test.

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