US officials "visited North Korea over rocket launch"
Published Thursday, May 24, 2012
Two senior US officials made a secret visit to North Korea in an apparent attempt to persuade it to cancel last month's long-range rocket launch, a South Korean report said Thursday.
A US Air Force Boeing 737 flew from Guam to Pyongyang with the officials on April 7, six days before the failed launch went ahead, Chosun Ilbo newspaper cited a diplomatic source in Seoul as saying.
Experts speculated that the aircraft carried Sydney Seiler, a National Security Council adviser to President Barack Obama, and Joseph DeTrani, director of the National Counter-Proliferation Centre, it said.
The report was one of several carried by South Korean media, although government officials and the US State Department refused to comment.
Yonhap news agency also said the plane carried DeTrani.
The United Nations Security Council condemned the April 13 launch as breaching a ban on testing ballistic missile technology, and tightened sanctions on the North.
Pyongyang insists its aim was only to put a satellite into orbit for peaceful purposes.
It says the launch did not breach a February agreement with the United States that promised a suspension of uranium enrichment and a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests in return for 240,000 tonnes of food aid.
After the launch plan was announced, the United States said it would suspend the start of food deliveries.
A North Korean foreign ministry statement released Tuesday carried an apparent reference to the reported US visit.