Han Song Ryol (L), North Korean vice foreign minister reportedly met with US officials last October. Sources say a meeting with North Korean foreign ministry's North America bureau chief Choi Sun-hee is now in the works. Photo: AFP/Jake Schoellkopf

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Japan’s Asahi Shimbun is reporting that the US and North Korea are moving to hold “informal” talks in Oslo next month to ease escalating tensions and head off a military clash between the two countries.

The respected Japanese newspaper cited sources close to Washington and Seoul as saying that American representatives, who include former US government officials and experts on North Korean affairs, are hoping to be joined at the talks by US State Department officials in charge of North Korea.

The US representatives slated to travel to the Norwegian capital include an individual who met with Han Song Ryol, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, and other Pyongyang officials in Kuala Lumpur last October, the sources said.

Pyongyang is set to send Choi Sun Hee, its foreign ministry’s North America bureau chief, according to the sources. The meeting is set for mid-October.

The US side is reportedly pressing for the participation of either Han or Kim Kye Gwan, Pyongyang’s first vice foreign minister.

Back-channel efforts to resolve the North Korean nuke crisis appear to be accelerating. Korea JoongAng Daily has reported that a senior North Korean diplomat who oversees American affairs arrived in Moscow Tuesday, in what appears to be Pyongyang’s effort to find an exit from intensifying global isolation after carrying out a sixth nuclear test earlier this month.

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