South Korea tried to urges North Korea during high-level talks in Pyongyang that the United States is sincere about improving relations if the communist state resolves concerns over its nuclear programs on Thursday.
"The United States wanted us to say that it has a clear intention to normalize relations with North Korea and it hopes the North won't question this," Unification Minister Chung Dong-young told reporters, according to pool reports. "The North said it would report this" to its leadership, Chung added.
The Cabinet-level meeting in the North Korean capital which opened Tuesday and concludes Friday is taking place in the shadow of six-nation nuclear talks under way in Beijing aimed at getting the North to give up its nuclear weapons programs.
Chung met chief U.S. nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill in Seoul on Monday for a strategy session ahead of the two sets of talks in Beijing and Pyongyang.
The Beijing talks, which involve the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia, were not moving ahead due mainly to North Korea's insistence on its right to a civilian nuclear program.
That demand is unacceptable to the United States, which distrusts Pyongyang's promise not to divert a civilian nuclear program for military purposes.
"I explained (to the North Koreans) that an early resolution is beneficial to both South and North Korea and the nuclear issue should no longer be an obstacle to inter-Korean relations," Chung said, according to pool reports, the AP.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building