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American envoy arrives in N. Korea

American envoy arrives in N. Korea

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SEOUL, South Korea - International efforts to shut down North Korea's nuclear program took a surprise turn Thursday when the United States sent a key official to Pyongyang for direct talks with the communist country.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, Washington's chief nuclear envoy to North Korea, is the highest-level U.S. official to visit the North Korean capital since October 2002.

The visit, coming before North Korea makes good on its promise to shut down its nuclear reactor, appeared to demonstrate how much the Bush administration wants to achieve a breakthrough in the effort to dismantle Pyongyang's atomic weapons program.

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