Christopher Hill, the former US top negotiator to the six-party nuclear talks, says he does not expect any "breakthroughs" in the process to denuclearize North Korea any time soon.
Testifying at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, Hill said recent high-level meetings between the North and the US in New York and in Geneva were not negotiations, but a chance to remind Pyeongyang it can not be recognized as a nuclear power.
But he did commend Washington's efforts to engage with the North Korean regime.
Hill, who led the US delegation at the six-nation forum during the George W. Bush administration, said the six-party process, however, is still the best mechanism for dealing with North Korea's nuclear issues.
He then urged the international community to maximize pain inflicted on the North through sanctions, in order to deter the regime from developing nuclear weapons.
Amid signs of six-party members' efforts to keep the dialogue momentum going after this week's Geneva talks, US Assistant Secretary of State for this region, Kurt Campbell stopped by Seoul on Thursday after wrapping up his tour of Southeast Asia.
[Interview : Kurt Campbell
US Asst. Secy. of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs] "There is a substantial amount of work that needs to be done. No decisions have been taken about next steps and one of the reasons we're here is to begin a process of deep discussion with South Korea so that we can applaud our course going forward."
Meanwhile, both South Korea's chief nuclear envoy Lim Sung-nam and North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, who helped lead the Geneva dialogue, are reportedly in Russia this week for discussions with their Russian counterpart Alexei Borodavkin.
The three representatives, however, are not expected to hold a trilateral meeting.
Choi You-sun, Arirang News.