US President Bill Clinton could announce late next week whether he has decided to travel to North Korea in a bid to convince Pyongyang to freeze its missile program, an administration official said Friday.
"We expect no announcement today or through the weekend on North Korea," said the official, who requested anonymity. "Christmas appears to be safe, but later next week there could be a decision. Things are still in flux."
Recently, White House officials suggested a decision on a possible trip to the hermetic Stalinist state would come before December 25 in view of traveling before Clinton cedes power to Republican President-elect George W. Bush January 20.
The outgoing leader himself on Wednesday acknowledged the allure of possibly striking a deal to end North Korea's missile program: "We may have a chance to put an end to it. And if we can, I think we should."
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made a landmark visit to Pyongyang in October.
North Korea's missile program is regarded with alarm by officials here, owing to its threat to the United States and allies like South Korea and Japan.
Washington also worries that impoverished North Korea is hawking missile technology to US adversaries like Iran and Libya in return for crucial foreign exchange, raising another question to American security -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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