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North Korean officials are preparing to come to U. S. for talks with former officials


But a recent missile test and an apparent assassination complicate efforts to start a dialogue after a five-year-plus hiatus.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Preparations are underway to bring senior North Korean representatives to the United States for talks with former American officials, the first such meeting in more than five years and a sign that Pyongyang sees a potential opening with the Trump administration. 
Arranging the talks has become a lot more complicated over the past eight days, with North Korea testing a ballistic missile and the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half brother in Malaysia, an act that many suspect was ordered by the North Korea leader. Malaysian police Sunday named as suspects four North Koreans who left the country on the day of the attack.  
Analysts are also highly doubtful that Pyongyang, which has insisted on being recognized as a nuclear state, would be willing to moderate its position on its weapons program.  
But if the talks do take place, they could offer a glimmer of hope for an already-hostile relationship that has only deteriorated as the Kim regime works aggressively to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the continental United States. 
The planning for the “Track 1.5” talks — with the U. S. side made up of the former officials who usually take part in Track 2 talks, but the North Korean side comprising government officials — is still in a preparatory stage, according to multiple people with knowledge of the arrangements.
The State Department has not yet approved the North Koreans’ visas for the talks, which would take place in New York within the next few weeks. 
“The North Koreans have expressed an interest in engagement, but nothing’s been approved yet,” said one person familiar with the preparations, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them. Others who have been in touch with North Koreans describe an intense interest in what President Trump might do.
“If this happens, it would be an interesting signal to the new administration,” he said of the discussions. 
[ Malaysia arrests North Korean man in connection with death of Kim Jong Un’s half brother ]
The talks would be the clearest indication yet that Kim wants to talk with the Trump administration. “If this happens, I would take it as a very positive sign from both sides,” said another person with knowledge of the arrangements. 
In recent years, there have been sporadic Track 1.5 talks that have taken place in Kuala Lumpur, Geneva, Berlin and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. But these talks have not taken place in the United States since July 2011, before Kim succeeded his father in North Korea. 
The planned talks are being organized by Donald S.

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