WASHINGTON – A top State Department official met with a top representative of the North Korean government in New York in March, The Cable has learned.
Clifford Hart, the State Department’s special envoy to the now-defunct six-party talks, met North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations Han Song-ryol in mid-March, just before North Korea began its latest string of provocative statements and actions, diplomatic sources said.
The meeting was done through what’s known in diplomatic circles as the New York channel, the most common method of direct communication between Washington and Pyongyang.
No real progress was made during the meeting and no new offers were made by the U.S. officials present, the sources said.
Most recently, the New York channel was used to warn the State Department just before North Korea tested a nuclear bomb for the third time in February. North Korea is expected to test a medium-range ballistic missile as early as Wednesday and another warning could come to the Obama administration via North Korea’s representative office at the U.N.
A former U.S. official who worked on North Korea in past administrations described how the New York channel works.
It’s been the main channel of communication between the North Korean government and the U.S. government. We don’t have any other channels we use, the official said.