U.S. official: Four-party Korea talks making nuts-bolts steps

GENEVA (AP) — North Korea sounded a protest Thursday over the U.S. military in South Korea, but joined in day-long talks on drafting a permanent peace for the Korean peninsula.
A U.S. official said after morning and afternoon sessions that there is a possibility of a “significant procedural” agreement on organizing the talks by the time this round of negotiations ends, tentatively scheduled for Sunday.
The delegations from the two Koreas, China and the United States have twice failed to reach an agreement that would allow them to begin talking about a peace treaty to replace the armistice in place since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war.
The border between the Koreas is the world’s most heavily armed, with nearly 2 million troops deployed on both sides.
Procedural issues have slowed negotiaions, as North Korea has demanded that the four sides agree on an agenda before they decide how to discuss it.
To underscore its position, North Korea issued a statement on its official Korean Central News Agency denouncing U.S. and South Korean plans for joint military maneuvers to begin Monday.
The exercises have been held annually since 1961, but North Korea said the timing the day after the current round is to end is “seriously provoking.”