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North Korea welcomes 'new method' from U.S. in nuclear talks

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A television news screen showing file footage of a meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. -
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JUNG YEON-JE
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North Korea has welcomed President Donald Trump's suggestion of a "new method" in Washington's nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang and praised the president's decision to fire the hawkish former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Those talks have been stalled for months by disagreements over trade-offs between sanctions relief and disarmament steps. In May North Korea said it wouldn't resume talks while the U.S. insisted on what it called unilateral disarmament.

In a statement released by state media, North Korean diplomat Kim Myong Gil, who will be leading planned working-level talks with Washington, said welcomed that relations would be conducted "from a more practical point of view" now that Bolton had gone.

Gil referred to Bolton as a "nasty troublemaker" with an "anachronistic way of thinking."

North Korean leader Kim Jung Un has said he is optimistic about re-starting negotiations, which the North earlier said could resume in a few weeks.

Pyongyang has repeatedly demanded that Washington reconsider its stance following the collapse of a February summit between the two sides in Hanoi.

Bolton, who North Korea previously described as a "war monger" and "defective human product," had insisted that the North should follow the Libyan path of denuclearization by fully eliminating its nuclear program upfront in a possible deal with the United States.

The 2004 disarmament of Libya is seen by Pyongyang as a deeply provocative comparison because Libyan autocrat Moammar Gadhafi was killed following U.S.-supported military action in his country seven years after giving up a rudimentary nuclear program that was far less advanced than North Korea's.

Trump on Wednesday said Bolton's comments set the United States back "very badly" in talks with the North. He said, "maybe a new method would be very good."

Kim said he wasn't exactly sure what Trump meant by a "new method" but assumed that he was implying a "step-by-step solution starting with the things feasible first while building trust in each other would be the best option."

While the timing of Bolton's firing could be convenient for talks, experts say the departure of one adviser wouldn't dramatically alter U.S. policy. The Trump administration has said sanctions and pressure will be maintained until North Korea takes concrete steps toward fully relinquishing its nuclear program.