On the eve of the arrival of UN observers monitoring the shutdown of its main nuclear plant, North Korea today appealed for direct military talks with the US. But Washington insists that the elimination of Pyongyang's nuclear-weapons program takes precedence, the Voice of America reports, and a South Korean expert says he's concerned that the request is a smokescreen.
With six-nation disarmament talks resuming next week in Beijing, the expert expressed concern that North Korea is attempting to leave South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan out of the loop and negotiate with Washington. Low-ranking US and North Korean troops meet regularly to administer the ceasefire, but the new request seems to be for a higher-level meeting, the AP reports. (Read more North Korea stories.)