Landmark talks are underway aimed at normalising diplomatic relations between North Korea and the United States. Delegations from the two countries are meeting in New York as part of a deal in which Pyongyang agreed to dismantle its nuclear programme.
It comes five years after US President Bush labelled North Korea part of an “axis of evil.”
The apparent breakthough follows last month’s talks in Beijing in which North Korea pledged to close its main nuclear facility.
Mohamed El Baradei, who heads the UN’s nuclear watchdog, said: “According to the Beijing agreement, this process has to be completed within 60 days so we have a short span of time and I hope within the coming few weeks we will be able to reach an agreement that could be blessed by our board of governors.”
Pyongyang has said it will close its main nuclear reactor by mid-April as part of steps to abandon its nuclear programme in exchange for extensive aid. The pledge comes just months after it tested a nuclear weapon.
As the talks progress, the US will be seeking reassurances that North Korea will follow through on the deal. The communist country’s pledges follow years of deteriorating relations between the two countries.