US chief negotiator Christopher Hill flew out of a US air base on Thursday bound for North Korea in the most high-ranking visit there by a US official in nearly five years, officials and reports said.
The surprise visit, carried out in secrecy, was confirmed by the government in Japan.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, quoting diplomatic sources, said he left Osan air base on a US military plane directly toward the North Korean capital Pyonygang, where he was due to land at 12:30 pm (0330 GMT).
A spokesman for US Forces in South Korea said he could not comment.
“The Japanese government understands that Mr. Hill is going to North Korea today,” chief government spokesman Yasuhisa Shiozaki said.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and informed him of the trip, Shiozaki said.
A South Korean foreign ministry official told AFP that Hill would return to Seoul on Friday and brief officials on his trip.
The visit is the first to North Korea by a senior US official since Hill’s predecessor, James Kelly, went to Pyongyang in October 2002.
Last Mod: 21 Haziran 2007, 12:09