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South Korea's first rocket blasted off into space Tuesday following an aborted attempt last week and just months after its rival North Korea drew international ire for its own launch.
North Korea has reportedly invited President Obama's top diplomatic envoys to the communist county for what would be the first nuclear talks between both countries since Obama took office.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that the U.S. is weighing whether to accept an invitation to send Stephen Bosworth, special envoy to the North to Pyongyang. Another publication, Seoul's JoongAng IIbo reported the Obama administration would likely send Bosworth along with chief nuclear negotiator Sung Kim to the North in September. The Associated Press could not confirm either report.
If true, the move could end a diplomatic impasse between both countries over the North's nuclear issue. Since Obama took office the North has launched missile tests, boycotted nuclear talks and ratcheted up rhetoric against the West. But the North has recently softened its stance toward the U.S. and South Korea, most notably by releasing two American journalists and restoring some ties with the South after a meeting between leader Kim Jong Il and former President Bill Clinton. On Tuesday, South Korea launched its first rocket into space, which could test the recent thaw in relations with its neighbor.
The U.S. has maintained any talks should be under a six-party international framework, while the North has said it wants only direct bilateral negotiations. Either way, Washington has said the North -- with its history of backing out of agreements -- must show verifiable steps toward dismantling its nuclear program before the West would consider lifting sanctions, the AP reported.