By Lee Chi-dong
North Korea and the United States are keeping their informal communication channel open, although there have been no government-level talks between the two sides since Pyongyang’s revelation of its rocket launch plan, an informed diplomatic source said Monday.
“(You) can say that the New York channel remains always open,” the source told Yonhap News Agency, requesting anonymity, in reference to the North’s mission to the United Nations.
Specifically, it means phone calls between Han Song-ryol, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the U.N., and Clifford Hart, the U.S. special envoy for the six-party talks.
The U.S., in cooperation with other regional allies, has been trying to dissuade the North from carrying out its plan to launch a long-range rocket later this month, added the source. But the North has shown no signs of backing away from the decision.
Participants in a “track-two” meeting in Berlin reportedly said a ranking North Korean diplomat, Ri Gun, did not indicate any cancellation of the launch.
Ri, director general of North American affairs at North Korea’s foreign ministry, led a delegation to the forum hosted by the Aspen Institute think tank over the weekend. The U.S. was represented by Thomas R. Pickering, former under secretary of state for political affairs.