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North Korea’s top nuclear envoy said Thursday that the U.S. is seeking a return to denuclearization talks in December, but warned that he believed the move could be a “trick to earn time” ahead of a year-end deadline set by Pyongyang for progress in the talks.

Kim Myong Gil said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency that Stephen Biegun, Washington’s special envoy to North Korea, had sent Pyongyang a message through an unnamed third country “hoping that the DPRK and the U.S. would meet again within December for negotiations.”

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