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U.S. May Call Off N. Korea Talks

July 1, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The skirmish between vessels of the two Koreas that killed four South Korean sailors could derail proposed U.S.-North Korean talks, administration officials said Monday.

Last Thursday, the administration proposed that long-stalled security talks with the North resume in Pyongyang during the second week in July in Pyongyang. As of Monday, there had been no reply from North Korea.

But Saturday’s incident off the west coast of the peninsula has cast doubt over the talks, said a senior official, asking not to be identified. In addition to the four killed, 19 South Korean sailors were injured.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher acknowledged there was a link between the Saturday incident and the question of whether the talks will proceed.

He said the United States will consider Pyongyang’s response to Thursday’s proposal ``in light of recent events″ _ a reference to the Saturday skirmish.

``We’re very concerned about this incident, about the armed provocation,″ Boucher said. ``We’ve also made proposals for further talks. ... Once we hear from them, we’ll consider it all together.″

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