(iht) - A top U.S negotiator will meet his North Korean counterpart in Singapore on Tuesday with hopes of reviving stalled nuclear talks.
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said he is unsure of progress in the meeting with North Korea's Kim Kye-gwan, and urged a return to six-nation talks that have been held up by the isolated state's overdue declaration on its nuclear activities.
Hill's visit comes at a time of heightened tension on the heavily armed Korean peninsula in recent days after the North's missile tests and threat to attack the South.
"It's very hard to know when you head into these talks whether you're going to make any progress," Hill told reporters on Monday. "Our goal is to get a six-party meeting going very soon."
Such a meeting, between China, Japan, Russia, the two Koreas and the United States, should not be held until the parties clarified and completed some of the issues that had held up talks, he said.
"What we need to do is to try to resolve the issue of the DPRK's (North Korea) responsibility to provide a complete and correct declaration," Hill said.
Washington wants Pyongyang to deliver a declaration giving a complete accounting of its nuclear programs as called for in a landmark deal struck in the six-party talks in February 2007.
The declaration was due by the end of 2007, and was meant to answer U.S. suspicions of a secret program to enrich uranium for weapons and proliferating nuclear technology.
North Korea has said it had already made the declaration and the U.S. suspicions were "fictions".
Gavan McCormack, an East Asia expert at the Australian National University, told Reuters that the nuclear declaration was a hurdle that must be crossed in order for the six-party talks to regain momentum.
If the North makes the declaration, it stands to be removed from a U.S. terrorism blacklist and be better able to tap into finance that could boost its economy.
Hill, who last met Kim about a month ago in Geneva, will fly to Beijing early on Wednesday to meet South Korean, Japanese and Russian officials to brief them on the North Korean situation.