US envoy in North Korea talks heading to Asia

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The top U.S. negotiator in international disarmament talks with North Korea is heading to Asia to prepare for a round of negotiations next week.

State Department officials said Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill was leaving for Tokyo and Singapore Monday ahead of six-nation talks in Beijing on Dec. 8.

Hill was expected to meet with North Korean officials before the Beijing negotiations. The U.S. wants North Korea to settle on a process for verifying its atomic activities.

Pyongyang agreed last year to disable its nuclear reactor under a disarmament-for-aid pact. It recently denied having agreed to allow inspectors to take samples from its nuclear complex to verify past nuclear activities.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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