President Clinton will meet in Washington next month with a top North Korean official as the United States accelerates its contacts with the Communist government in Pyongyang.
The Oct. 9-12 visit of Cho Myong Nok, the first vice chairman of North Korea's National Defense Commission, was announced Friday by the State Department. The statement characterized the visit as "an important step forward in promoting bilateral relations."
Cho is the highest-ranked North Korea official to come to Washington. He is considered second in command to the country's leader, Kim Jong Il, and will be accompanied by Kang Sok Ju, vice minister of foreign affairs.
American and North Korean negotiators have been meeting since Wednesday in New York in an effort by the United States to end North Korea's development and export of missiles.
The talks also have been centered on terms of an accord that froze North Korea's nuclear weapons program in exchange for energy supplies and two civilian reactors, State Department officials said.