U.S. May Offer Diplomatic Ties to North Korea

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North Korea is keeping its promise to freeze its nuclear program and may be offered diplomatic recognition in talks next month, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have looked at North Korea's experimental reactor at Yongbyon and at other sites. They intend to visit the country's reprocessing plant, as well.

The reactor at the nuclear complex was virtually shut down a month ago. It is not being reloaded with fuel rods, nor is fuel being removed, U.S. officials said. A few rods that the International Atomic Energy Agency considers insignificant were removed.

The prospect of recognition is one reason that North Korea agreed to a freeze.

A State Department spokesman, Michael McCurry, said Thursday that diplomatic relations would be part of the agenda when U.S. and North Korean diplomats talk next month in Geneva.

He added that the U.S. delegation also would bring up North Korea's sale of missiles to Syria and Iran and its plans to build a larger nuclear reactor.

Assistant Secretary of State Robert Gallucci met in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday with Hans Blix, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Warren Christopher gave reports on North Korea's latest moves to Foreign Ministers Koji Kakizawa of Japan and Han Sung-joo of South Korea as Christopher flew home from a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels, Belgium.

On Capitol Hill, Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. commanders in South Korea were reviewing the recommendations they made to President Bill Clinton for defending South Korea, and the Pentagon would suspend any plans to bolster the 37,000 U. …