North and South Korea to hold informal talks

MATTHEW LEE - Associated Press

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — North and South Korea will hold informal talks on the sidelines of Asia's largest security forum, a senior U.S. official said Friday.

The official, speaking on condition he not be named, described it as the "first big interaction" between the two sides in many months.

Negotiations to end North Korean's nuclear weapons program have been stalled for more than two years, when North Korea walked out of the six-party negotiations in 2008 to protest international criticism of a prohibited long-range rocket launch. But top diplomats from all six countries involved in the talks — the United States, China, Russia, Japan and North and South Korea — are attending the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Pyongyang — which stands to get badly needed aid and other concessions if it returns to the table — has indicated in recent months that it might be ready.

The U.S. official did not tell reporters who would take part in Friday's meeting.

But he said he expected the talks to lead to increased open interaction between the two sides in the months to come.